Theresa May puts high-tech customs plan 'back on the table': Brexit News for Friday 11 May

Theresa May puts high-tech customs plan 'back on the table': Brexit News for Friday 11 May
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Theresa May puts high-tech customs plan back on the table after weeks of opposing it…

Theresa May has bowed to intense Brexiteer pressure and admitted Britain may now pick a “Max Fac” hi-tech customs plan after weeks of opposing it, The Sun can reveal. A delegation of 25 furious ex-Ministers and MPs were briefed on Wednesday night that the Brexit border fix championed by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove was now firmly “on the table” with No10 “taking it seriously”. They had urged Chief Whip Julian Smith to explain why Downing Street hadn’t killed off the PM’s preferred Customs Partnership plan despite her inner Cabinet “war committee” rejecting it by six votes to five last week. The “Maximum Facilitation” plan would use technology to monitor goods and borders, but the partnership relies on collecting import tariffs on Brussels behalf. Critics argue this would tie the UK to Brussels rules forever.  – The Sun

  • May splits up warring ministers to examine Brexit options – Daily Mail
  • Prime Minister orders David Davis to find third way on customs deal – Daily Mail

…but leaves ‘crazy’ Customs Partnership plan on the table too…

Theresa May has split up her warring Brexit sub-committee to try and thrash out a way forward on her two proposals for a customs deal – with each working group mostly opposed to the option they are considering. The Prime Minister acted after a meeting of the Brexit “war cabinet” failed to agree a way forward at a crunch meeting last week. One will consider the Brexiteers’ favoured “maximum facilitation” solution – or “max fac” – that would see a “highly streamlined” arrangement using technology to minimise but not eliminate import checks. – Telegraph (£)

  • Boris Johnson’s customs option is the only one that achieves a meaningful Brexit – The Sun editorial

…amidst suggestions May’s Brexit adviser Olly Robbins ‘held back key advice’ on tech that could solve the Irish border issue

Seething Brexiteer Cabinet Ministers are convinced Theresa May’s pro-EU aide could have made a stronger case for the hi-tech “maximum facilitation” customs option at the crunch meeting of the Brexit “war cabinet” last week. The high-flying civil servant talked the 11 strong committee through the merits of the No10’s previously  preferred complex Custom Partnership over the option backed by Boris Johnson. Mr Robbins said “Max Fac” would mean more red tape for 145,000 companies trading with the EU. But Whitehall sources told The Sun that Liam Fox and David Davis both believe more options about “Max Fac” could have been included in the briefing. – The Sun

  • Customs union only way to prevent hard border in Ireland, says Major – Guardian

Leadsom tears into unelected peers for trying to ‘undermine the will’ of voters…

Unelected peers should not ‘undermine the will’ of the people who voted for Brexit, a Cabinet minister today said. The House of Lords has inflicted 14 defeats on the EU Withdrawal Bill in an effort to  water down Brexit. Leading Tory MPs have called for the House of Lords to be reformed in the wake of their Brexit rebellion. And today Cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom warned peers it is not their job to undermine the work of the elected House of Commons and will of voters. – Daily Mail

…as Minister warns that Brexit-blocking Lords could leave UK with no deal

A senior Government minister warned that peers who are amending Brexit legislation are increasing the likelihood of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal. Peers have so passed 14 amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill including removing the 29 March 2019 Brexit leaving date and changing the law to try to keep the UK in the single market. Dominic Raab, the Housing minister, warned: “The House of Lords is increasing the risk of no deal.  I am a passionate Brexiteer but I have always argued that we should secure the best deal that we can with our European friends and partners. I think the peers are making that harder and are making no deal more likely.” – Chopper’s Brexit Podcast

> Watch on BrexitCentral’s YouTube Channel: Jacob Rees-Mogg says Lords have overstepped the mark

Michael Gove warns EU could use Irish border issue to hold Britain hostage over Brexit

Michael Gove is concerned the EU will use the Northern Ireland border issue to “hold us hostage” and keep the UK in the Single Market and Customs Union. The Environment Secretary raised concerns at a private dinner of Tory Eurosceptics that Britain may be unable to secure a customs deal with Brussels before it leaves the EU in March 2019. He believes that the EU’s Irish border “backstop” could be used as a “Trojan Horse” during negotiations in the 21-month transition period after Brexit to keep Britain in the Customs Union indefinitely. A source told The Telegraph that Mr Gove is concerned that if Britain accepts the backstop option “we won’t have all the negotiating cards that we would want to have in that transition period”. – Telegraph (£)

Rolls Royce SUV will be built in the UK

Rolls Royce has said it plans to build its next SUV in Britain, ahead of the big reveal of the luxury Cullinan model at noon today. Chief executive Torsten Muller-Otvos told the BBC’s Today Programme the firm would like to continue building cars at its West Sussex plant. But with 90 per cent of Rolls Royce’s cars destined for overseas markets, he is “truly interested” in seeing a Brexit deal that maintains frictionless free trade.”Rolls Royce is a truly British brand and we belong to Britain. – City A.M.

Immigrants working for the NHS should get special visa category after Brexit, says Jeremy Hunt

Immigrants working for the NHS and in social care should get special visas to stay in the UK, Jeremy Hunt has said. The Health Secretary said he is likely to lobby new Home Secretary Sajid Javid for the new dedicated visa. His intervention comes after health chiefs warned that doctors and nurses were being denied visas to stay in the UK – depriving the country of desperately needed staff. The British Medical Association and the heads of Royal Colleges wrote to Mr Javid warning medical staff were falling foul of caps on visa numbers.  – Daily Mail

Gove’s new post-Brexit environmental watchdog criticised by green groups

The environment will have less protection after Brexit because the proposed new green watchdog will lack the power to hold ministers to account, conservation groups have said. Michael Gove, the environment secretary, has unveiled plans for a new independent statutory body to replace the role of the European Commission in ensuring compliance with rules on reducing air and water pollution and protecting wildlife in Britain. An Environmental Principles and Governance Bill will be published in draft form this autumn and will establish what the government described as a “world-leading body to hold government to account for environmental outcomes”. – The Times (£)

Industry pushes for UK space programme ahead of Brexit

Britain’s space industry is calling for a national space programme and targeted public procurement to help overcome the challenges of the UK’s exit from the EU and spur £1bn in private investment over the next decade. The call comes as the UK is locked in a dispute over participation in the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation system after Brussels proposed banning British companies from sensitive parts of the project. The Space Growth Partnership, which brings together industry, academia and policymakers, called for the programme in a new document, entitled Prosperity from Space. – FT (£)

  • EU is bullying UK over new European sat-nav system, says UK science minister – i News

Door opens to keep Britain in EU Army

The EU’s new military pact should be opened up to countries outside the bloc — such as the U.S., Norway and the U.K. — after Brexit, according to a proposal to be discussed by European defence ministers next month. The idea — put forward as a “food for thought paper” by Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands — would, if implemented, erode the EU exclusivity of the military cooperation forum. But it offers another way besides NATO to keep Britain, in particular, engaged in European security structures after next year. The U.K. is the biggest military spender of the current 28 EU countries and a rare one able to project force into distant combat zones. This proposal opens a path for Britain, or another so-called third country, to take a role in future EU military initiatives, including in an EU rapid reaction force. – Politico

Alexander Downer Interview: what Aussies really think of Brexit

When friends speak, you should listen — and you would be hard pressed to find a better friend of this country in the London diplomatic corps than Alexander Downer. The 66-year-old, who has just finished a four-year stint as the Australian High Commissioner, is an Anglophile by instinct and upbringing. He spent much of his childhood here because his father was appointed to the job in 1964. When Downer’s father left in 1972, he worried about this country joining the European Economic Community and what that would mean for relations with Australia and other Commonwealth countries. So there is a neat symmetry in his son being High Commissioner when Britain decided to reverse that decision. – The Spectator

Christian May: EU chiefs need to wake up and see the warning lights

Some institutions are so intransigent, so inflexible and so bloody-minded that their inability to change, even when faced with immense pressure, elicits a grudging respect. So it is with the European Union. As things stand, the EU is facing enormous challenges: the UK is leaving and will, over time, deprive the project of vital funds. In eastern Europe, governments are in open rebellion against the authority of Brussels and in the south, the spectre of youth unemployment scars a generation. In the words of Italy’s President Mattarella, speaking yesterday, “the European project has lost its ability to meet the expectations of large portions of the populmany citizens have ceased to believe Europe can really solve their problems.” He should know, faced as he is with the prospect of presiding over the EU’s first populist, anti-EU government. – Christian May for City A.M.

Tim Worstall: Food will be cheaper after Brexit – if we ignore special interests

Think about it just for a moment. We are being told that Brexit could mean tariffs on imported food, so we need a trade deal to stop food being more expensive. At the same time we cannot just not charge tariffs on imported food because that would make food cheaper. And that, folks, is the way we are governed. So we get this perversion of logic where free trade with Europeans is great and must be protected, but free trade with those we don’t share a continent with must be verboeten. If it weren’t such a cliché these days we’d be calling that out as racism, wouldn’t we? It really is true that the House of Lords committee tells us both that tariffs make food more expensive but that we must retain tariffs, because removing them would make food cheap. – Tim Worstall for CapX

Lord Norton of Louth: The EU (Withdrawal) Bill – not our finest hour

The House has not exactly wrapped itself in glory in dealing with the Bill… Regrettably, we have allowed ourselves to be diverted.  Time has been taken up with amendments that are not really within the scope of the Bill – they have dealt with policy issues that should be addressed consequent to passage of the Bill.   We have had speeches throughout that are little more than Second Reading speeches, expressing views about the merits or demerits of withdrawing from the EU. The result has been time-consuming unfocused proceedings.  There is considerable dissatisfaction among peers and a feeling we need to tighten up on self-regulation. There is a world of difference between self-regulation and personal indulgence. – Lord Norton’s blog

Brexit in Brief

  • Arch Brexiteers are letting euroscepticism down – Ben Kelly for Reaction
  • Brexit is fast becoming a Tory no-win – James Forsyth for The Spectator
  • I suspect that Brexit is driving me mad – but I will not shut up – Matthew Parris for The Spectator
  • Emmanuel Macron urges Germany to step up to ‘its responsibilities’ at historic moment for EU reform – Telegraph (£)
  • Esther McVey destroys Chuka Umunna after calling for second Brexit vote on Question Time – Express
  • May is ‘weak’ and Boris has a ‘Trump hairstyle’ – Germany’s most senior EU official mocks British cabinet divisions – Telegraph (£)
  • Leave.EU fined £70,000 for breaking electoral law during referendum – BBC
  • Labour’s Northern Irish sister party urges MPs to defy Corbyn and back single market plan – Independent
  • EU officials braced for ‘nightmare scenario’ as anti-Brussels radicals prepare to govern Italy – Telegraph (£)