Brexit News for Wednesday 12 July

Brexit News for Wednesday 12 July
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David Davis says the Government has not changed tack on Brexit strategy

David Davis yesterday insisted the government is not softening its approach to Brexit, despite suggestions that Theresa May is caving into pressure on both sides of the house. The Brexit secretary dismissed claims that the Prime Minister and her team had changed tack since being weakened by the General Election. Instead he argued that because ministers were talking about accepting some aspects of EU membership as part of a transitional phase, this was being “conflated” with a change in the government’s position. – City A.M.

  • Lack of NI Executive ‘slightly problematic’, says David Davis – BBC

Boris Johnson says EU can ‘go whistle’ over Brexit divorce bill….

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has told MPs the European Union can “go whistle” for any “extortionate” final payment from the UK on Brexit. And he said that the government had “no plan” for what to do in the event of no deal being agreed with the EU. He said: “The sums I have seen that they propose to demand from this country appear to be extortionate.” “Go whistle seems to me to be an entirely appropriate expression,” he added. Asked during Commons questions if there was a strategy, either public or private, for what would happen if there was no agreement on Brexit, Mr Johnson said: “There is no plan for no deal because we are going to get a great deal.”  – BBC

  • Johnson: EU’s exit bill demand ‘extortionate’ – SkyNews
  • Boris Johnson accuses EU of ‘extortion’ over Brexit divorce bill and says it can ‘go whistle’  Telegraph  
  • David Davis laughs off Boris Johnson’s ‘go whistle’ remark over Brexit bill – PA
  • EU demands for Brexit payments are ‘extortionate’, says Boris Johnson – Independent
  • Jeremy Corbyn condemns Boris Johnson´s `silly remarks´ on Brexit bill – PA

…and suggests there’s no plan for a ‘no deal’ Brexit…

Boris Johnson today said ‘there is no plan for no deal’ on Brexit as he told Brussels they can ‘go whistle’ for their ‘extortionate’ divorce bill demands. The Foreign Secretary said the chances of Britain crashing out of the union without a trade deal are ‘vanishingly unlikely’ and that no plan B is being drawn up. His comments put him at loggerheads with Brexit Secretary David Davis who has said he spends half his time preparing for the ‘walk away’ option.  And Mr Johnson dismissed talk that Britain will have to pay eye-watering amounts to the EU as part of a divorce bill amid reports Brussels want as much as 100billion euros (£84.5bn) from us. – Daily Mail

…but May’s spokeswoman insists the Government is planning for ‘all eventualities’

Britain is planning for all eventualities in Brexit talks with the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman said on Tuesday when asked whether the government had prepared for leaving the bloc without a deal. May has been under pressure to back away from her stance that “no deal is better than a bad deal” since losing her governing Conservative Party’s parliamentary majority in an ill-judged election gamble. “As a responsible government we are planning for all eventualities,” the spokeswoman said. – Reuters

  • Downing Street slaps down Boris Johnson after he said there is ‘no plan’ for leaving EU without any deal – Independent

Angela Merkel hints that Brexit does indeed mean the ECJ losing power over the UK…

Angela Merkel today hinted that Europe has finally accepted Britain will be free from the meddling European Court of Justice (ECJ) after Brexit.   Europe has been insisting that the court must continue to rule on disputes involving EU nationals who stay in the UK after we leave the bloc. But Theresa May has insisted that leaving the hated court is a red line in talks on leaving the Brussels club.  The stage had been set for a major row over the issue, but in what appears to be a major concession the German Chancellor admitted the UK has made it clear that freeing ourselves from the ECJ is non-negotiable. – Daily Mail

…as she admits Brits in Europe won’t be sent back after Brexit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that Britons living elsewhere in the European Union should not worry about being sent back to the United Kingdom after Brexit, and that any rights granted to EU citizens by Britain would be “largely reciprocated,” Reuters reported. “Now we’ve heard what kind of offers Britain has made the EU citizens from the 27 member states living in Britain, they will of course continue to be largely reciprocated by us,” said the German chancellor at a business conference in Bavaria. – Politico

  • William Hague insists ECJ should have no say on EU nationals in the UK – Express
  • David Jones warns any ECJ role after EU divorce is ‘not acceptable’ – Express

EU officials plan £50,000 staff party with 700 bottles of wine

European Union officials are looking forward to a massive eight-hour end of year party, which will boast 700 bottles of wine and a dinner with 26 different dishes at a cost of up to £48,600. About 1,200 to 1,400 civil servants will enjoy an evening of dancing, dinner and drinks lasting from 7pm until 3am at the Council of the European Union’s huge Justus Lipsius building in Brussels. The building hosts the regular summits of EU leaders, chaired by European Council President Donald Tusk, as well as meeting of national ministers. – Telegraph (£)

  • EU plans €6M-a-year ‘House of Europe’ in Paris – Politico

‘Limited window’ to rethink decision to leave Euratom, says UK nuclear industry chief

Brexit doesn’t inevitably mean leaving the international body governing civil nuclear power in Europe, but there is very little time for the government to rethink its decision, the head of the U.K.’s nuclear industry group warned. The comments by Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the U.K.’s Nuclear Industry Association, add to growing concern over the government’s intention to pull out of the European Atomic Energy Community, or Euratom, at the same time as leaving the EU  – Politico

  • May accused of making Euratom decision ‘with little consultation’ – Evening Standard
  • Britain is not free to decide alone whether to remain in Euratom – Paul Goodman for ConservativeHome

King of Spain may wade into Gibraltar’s Brexit row during State Visit

While British diplomatic sources say they consider Spain an ally in negotiating relatively benign terms for Brexit, they also admit they are concerned about Madrid’s insistence on re-examining the status of Gibraltar… All eyes will be on King Felipe when he speaks to UK parliamentarians on Wednesday, to see if he emulates his father Juan Carlos. As king back in 1986 Juan Carlos raised Spain’s claim over the Rock when addressing MPs and Lords, on the last Spanish state visit to the UK. – James Badcock for the BBC

  • Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Leitizia begin UK state visit – BBC

Euro-judge warns of unpleasant Brexit surprise from European Court

The British Government has seriously underestimated the risk of a bombshell ruling by the European Court of Justice that could block any Brexit settlement and leave the UK facing a cliff-edge departure, a former top judge has warned.Such an impasse could occur even if there is a political deal agreed amicably between London and Brussels. The consequences would be grave if the British state has not prepared an emergency fall-back response well in advance. – Telegraph (£)

Britain’s ambassador to the EU has yet to move to Brussels

Britain’s ambassador to the European Union has yet to move permanently to Brussels more than six months after starting the job. Sir Tim Barrow, 53, was appointed the UK’s representative to the EU in January. His wife and four children remain in London, where he spends many weekends. Senior sources in Brussels claimed Sir Tim is often absent during parts of the week as well, attending meetings and working in Whitehall. The absences are said to have been compounded by his need to fight “turf wars” in Whitehall over the government’s Brexit strategy. – The Times (£)

Norway hits out at EU for sending ships into Oslo waters

Norway, which is not a member of the European Union, has slammed Brussels for authorising European vessels from mainly Baltic nations to fish for crabs in the Svalbard area, an archipelago in the Barents Sea, insisting the move violates its national sovereignty. A Latvian ship, The Senator, was recently intercepted by the Norwegian coast guard while crab fishing around Svalbard and received a hefty fine. Norwegian Fisheries Minister Per Sandberg said: “What happened is totally new. The EU is unabashed to make this kind of a decision without consulting us.” – Express 

Leave the EU ‘loser club’ and secure trade deal with Britain, demands Danish MEP

MEP Morten Messerschmidt, who represents the Danish People Party (DF) and a member of the European Parliament, suggested Denmark should exit the bloc within five years. He told Børsen that after the Brexit dust has settled “we will know what the alternative to EU cooperation is”. Mr Messerschmidt added: “Then we can ask the Danes if the alternative would not be more attractive than being in the loser club, which the EU is.” The British government and the EU are negotiating how the UK will exit the union. –  Express

Leave voters obsessed by immigrants, says Vince Cable

The vote to take Britain out of the European Union was fuelled by elderly people fixated on the idea of “80 million Turks coming to their village”, Sir Vince Cable claimed yesterday. The incoming Lib Dem leader said the Brexit campaign formed a coalition between nostalgic pensioners in rural southern counties and “bitter” voters in towns such as Blackburn and Hartlepool. – The Times (£)

  • Sir Vince Cable says prospect of no Brexit is `becoming very real´ – PA
  • People voted Leave over fears of ’80 million Turks coming to live in their village’, says Vince Cable – Independent

John Redwood: Positive news on post-Brexit trading opportunities

Some on the continent have said they want to repatriate dealings in the Euro to the continent. This is a silly statement. All the time they want the Euro to be a serious global currency like the dollar, widely used around the world, they have to allow non EU centres to make a market in it. How would the EU stop people buying and selling Euros or Euro denominated bonds outside their area? And why would the world then take their currency seriously? -John Redwood MP for John Redwood’s Diary

Joseph Hackett: The EU can’t stand up to Russia

For many Remainers, the EU is the great defender of the West. To turn your back on the European project is to turn your back on Western freedom, and to weaken the EU is to help leave the democracies of Eastern Europe at the mercy of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. In their view, with Brexit and the election of President Trump, the UK and USA have abandoned the stage, leaving the EU to stand up for the West. – Joseph Hackett for CommentCentral

Brexit comment in brief

  • The real test of Theresa May’s longevity will be on Brexit – Katy Balls for the Spectator
  • May’s new spinner picks a fight with Fox . – David Keighley for Conservative Woman
  • The United Kingdom should not leave Euratom – The Times editorial (£)
  • The senseless Remoaning Tory “sensibles” – Alexander Fluza for The Commentator
  • Brexit can make it safer and easier for refugee children to rejoin their families – Tim Loughton for ConservativeHome
  • This was meant to be Theresa May’s big relaunch. What happened? – Michael Deacon for the Telegraph (£)
  • Brexit can still be stopped – Matt Kelly for Politico
  • Tories should embrace the Human Rights Act – Daniel Finkelstein for the Times (£)

Brexit news in brief

  • ‘Soft power’ report calls for global push of British culture – The Times (£)
  • Protect EU trade and financial services to safeguard economy, Bank of England official warns Telegraph
  • Brexit prompts rush for UK lawyers to register in Ireland – Politico
  • EU veteran warns Brussels trouble brewing in ‘stagnating’ Italy – Express
  • UK must retain ‘voice’ in setting business standards – BBC
  • UK’s services surplus growing three times faster with countries outside EU – Express
  • Royal Navy mission fails to curb flow of migrants across MediterraneanThe Times (£)
  • France seeks to make Paris Europe’s leading finance hub – Reuters

And finally: A recent extraordinarily doom-laden article from the Evening Standard

It is 2030 and Britain is a post-Brexit apocalyptic wasteland. Project Fear turned out to be a snowflake underestimate of the coming reality. Britain is a friendless, cancer-ridden cesspit, from which there is little travel in or out. Trade, such as it is, sees the nation attempting to sell ice to Iceland or coal to Russia. Terror attacks have at least subsided, on the basis that most towns look like they’ve already been done. Even terrorists have standards. – Simon English for the Evening Standard

…and another from the Financial Times

Things are going badly wrong in Brexit-land. The UK government is weak and divided. The EU is confident and uncompromising. The negotiation clock is ticking and only the wilfully deluded now believe that a “cake-and-eat-it” Brexit is on offer. Instead, Britain appears to face a choice between three different types of humiliation. – Gideon Rachman for the FT (£)