Brexit News for Wednesday 12 April

Brexit News for Wednesday 12 April

European leaders back Donald Tusk’s draft negotiating guidelines

EU countries will make only small changes to the European Council’s draft guidelines on Brexit, including making the wording on citizens’ rights clearer, according to two diplomats who on Tuesday took part in the first talks on the text by government officials. Another change will be to spell out the European Parliament’s role in negotiations, which was not mentioned at all in the draft guidelines published two weeks ago — although it’s unclear if this will appear in the next draft… The first differences started to emerge during Tuesday’s talks, although diplomats said there was an overall display of unity… There were no changes mentioned on territorial issues such as the future of Gibraltar but this will require many rounds of bilateral talks, diplomats said. – Politico

MPs warn that foreign hackers may have crashed EU referendum registration site…

A foreign cyberattack may have caused the official voter registration website for the EU referendum to crash hours before the final deadline, according to a report by MPs. The Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) says the crash had indications of being a distributed denial of service attack – overwhelming the site and thwarting people’s attempts to sign up… The group’s Conservative chairman, Bernard Jenkin, warned the possibility could not be ruled out because of how other countries have suffered cyberattacks during their elections… However, it said last year’s incident had no material effect on the outcome of the referendum. – Sky News

…as report warns that public trust in the civil service was “damaged” by its partisan role in the campaign…

The MPs also found that public trust in the civil service was “damaged” during the EU referendum campaign because it appeared to be biased against Brexit… They highlighted the civil service’s role in producing reports warning that Brexit could send the economy into recession and leaflets advocating Remain that were sent to every household in the UK. The report said that in future the civil service must in future prepare for both possible outcomes of a referendum or risk “increasing the public’s disenchantment with politics”. Bernard Jenkin, the chairman of the committee, said: “The use of the machinery of government during referendums has a significant effect on public trust and confidence… it is of the highest importance that the referendum process is seen to be fair, by both sides, and that the result is agreed to, even if not with, by both sides.” The report said that in future the civil service code should be amended to ensure officials are as impartial during referendum campaigns as they are during General Elections. – Daily Telegraph

…and criticises Cameron’s “questionable” motives for calling a referendum in the first place

The committee has also criticised Mr Cameron’s “questionable” motives for calling a referendum in the first place, saying it had been done to “call the bluff” of his critics and shut down “unwelcome” debate. The committee urged future governments to think carefully before promising nationwide votes on controversial issues, particularly if they are not prepared to implement an outcome they do not like. “There was no proper planning for a Leave vote so the EU referendum opened up much new controversy and left the prime minister’s credibility destroyed,” the report says. – BBC News

>Hugh Bennett on BrexitCentral: Cameron winning the referendum would have been damaging for our democracy

MPs urge Government not to close the door to foreign scientists after Brexit

A committee of MPs reports that foreign-born scientists must be allowed to continue to come to the UK after Brexit, and has warned the Government is must commit to making up any shortfall in EU research funding. The Science and Technology Committee said that the industrial strategy should be going further in acknowledging and preparing for the ways in which leaving the EU will reshape the UK economy. Committee chairman Stephen Metcalfe said: “Brexit will present opportunities and risks for our economy and for the science and innovation that supports it. A regulatory regime that is well-crafted and tuned to our post-Brexit international research and trading relationships – both with Europe and globally – will be essential.” – The Independent

Banks boost UK hiring despite Brexit, according to recruiter Robert Walters…

Investment banks in London have been hiring more staff for specialised finance roles, recruiter Robert Walters said on Tuesday, in comments likely to ease concerns over the impact of Brexit on a mainstay of the British economy… Walters said talk of banks moving jobs out of London due to concerns about their ability to trade across the bloc had died down. Language barriers, a shortage of housing and challenging labour laws in other European capitals are barriers to moving. “We’re not hearing any talk that anybody is going to move. We haven’t had any requests for hiring in any of our centres,” said Walters, whose firm operates in cities such as Paris, Frankfurt, Dublin, Amsterdam and New York. – Reuters/Mail

…as Philip Hammond says UK must ‘strive and graft’ after Brexit to remain world-beater in tech

Britain can flourish after Brexit and remain a world-beater in cutting edge technologies – as long as it is ready to “strive and graft and fight” for the opportunities, Philip Hammond will say today. The Chancellor is speaking at the UK’s inaugural International FinTech Conference of firms and investors in the financial technology sector behind innovations like contactless card payments, mobile phone banking and online crowd-funding. Fintech is already worth £7billion to the UK economy and provides consumers with better services and more choice while cutting costs for business Mr Hammond will say. But Britain cannot stay world Number One for such technologies unless it goes out to win the business, he will warn. “We will have to strive and graft and fight to seize the opportunities – and make the most of them.” – Daily Express

Britain’s essential role in global aerospace may come under pressure from Brexit, according to report

Britain plays an essential role in the global aerospace industry, but this position could come under pressure if Britain does not hammer out a favourable deal in the Brexit negotiations, a report has found. The warning comes from manufacturers’ organisation EEF and Santander in their review into the British aerospace industry, which is worth £31bn a year to the UK economy and is the world’s second largest, beaten only by the US… The airliner market is dominated by pan-European Airbus and US-based Boeing, and although neither builds complete aircraft in Britain, both rely on UK-built parts to make their products… “Airbus could face growing political pressure to bring jobs back to France, Germany and Spain as a result of the [UK’s] decision to leave the single market,” the report warns. – Daily Telegraph

  • Brexit risks pushing UK out of European space contracts – FT (£)

UK retirees less willing to move abroad after Brexit vote, poll finds

The prospect of retiring to the sunny hills of Provence or the playas of Spain is less attractive since the EU referendum, with older voters concerned their healthcare would no longer be covered post-Brexit, a survey has found. The research shows that 41% of over-50s who were previously considering leaving the UK to retire in continental Europe were now “less likely to move following Britain’s decision to leave the EU”. Almost two-thirds of the over-50s surveyed said they were most concerned about losing access to the NHS, while more than a quarter expressed fears over a lack of suitable options for care in older age. – The Guardian

Daniel Finkelstein: Blair’s 1997 landslide explains why Leavers won’t budge

Understanding how Tony Blair won 20 years ago shows why Remainers are wrong to fantasise that Brexit won’t happen… Many Remainers believe that as people voted leave for many different inconsistent reasons, and Brexit can’t meet all these inconsistent demands, soon there will no longer be a majority for leaving. But it doesn’t work like that. People’s feelings about their vote change once they have voted. They are likely to remain as leavers even if their reasons for leaving have left. – Daniel Finkelstein for The Times (£)

The Spectator: Britain and the EU can part on good terms

Trade agreements may be hard to forge in the first place, but when free trade is already established — as it is between Britain and the rest of the EU — there will be huge resistance if anyone does anything to thwart it. Negotiations tend to succeed, it is often noted, when everyone can go away claiming victory. Some see this as meaning that Britain will end up paying a very large bill that would suit the likes of France, Italy and Spain. But for Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltic states, with their more free-market instincts, a free-trade agreement with Britain would be a victory. They know that Britain will be busy doing trade deals with countries outside the EU — and almost certainly concluding them much faster than with the slow-moving EU. – The Spectator leading article

Brexit comment in brief

  • Road to Brexit: The real players that will keep EU talks going – Andrew Grice for The Independent
  • Will Britons really accept empty high streets as the price of lower immigration? Somehow, I doubt it – Philip Johnston for the Daily Telegraph (£)
  • Emmanuel Macron and the rise of the extreme centre – Walter Ellis for Reaction
  • Ten Lenten confessions about Brexit – Richard Ritchie for ConservativeHome

Brexit news in brief

  • UK inflation rate remains at 2.3% – BBC News
  • Food giants using stealth price rises to beat Brexit – The Times (£)
  • Tory MP John Penrose urges PM to echo Britain’s post-war government with ‘genuinely radical’ Brexit shake-up – Daily Express
  • JD Sports shrugs off Brexit to report a more than 80% jump in profit – The Independent
  • German SPD boss says UK should have a second Brexit referendum – Politico
  • How do you solve a problem like 73 empty seats? – Guido Fawkes
  • MEPs debate who inherits British seats – Politico
  • EU scrambles meeting over border chaos – EUObserver
  • Brexit drives a rise in ‘clicktivism’ as armchair activists signing online petitions more than double – Daily Telegraph
  • Paul Nuttall says vote UKIP ‘to get your community back’ – BBC News
  • Ukip should ‘disband’, Douglas Carswell says – The Independent
  • Tory MP Kwasi Kwarteng blasts The New York Times over an article questioning whether London would survive Brexit – The Sun