Talks on future trade relationship to begin next week: Brexit News for Friday 13 April

Talks on future trade relationship to begin next week: Brexit News for Friday 13 April
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Brexit talks on future trade relationship set to begin next week…

European Union and U.K. officials will start talking next week for the first time on what the post-Brexit trading relationship might look like, according to an EU official. With just a year to go until Britain leaves the bloc, it will be the first time negotiators sit down to compare positions on how close ties can remain after Brexit. The two sides start off far apart on what kind of deal is possible: The EU has rejected the U.K.’s proposals as cherry picking the best bits of EU membership and the U.K. says the EU is being too inflexible. The sessions will also cover the still unresolved issue of the Irish border and other parts of the divorce agreement that remain to be settled, according to the official, who declined to be named as the agenda hasn’t yet been published. – Bloomberg

  • EU and Britain to start trade talks next week – Reuters

…as David Davis warns that MPs could veto any final Brexit deal unless Parliament is given ‘substantive’ detail of agreement

David Davis has warned that MPs could veto any final Brexit deal unless Parliament is given a “substantive” idea of what our future trading relationship with the EU will look like. The Brexit Secretary said the Government could struggle to get the House of Commons to sign off on the £40billion “divorce bill” if he cannot provide a “lot of detail” about the long-term agreement with Brussels. The UK is aiming to secure a comprehensive free trade deal and wants it to be signed shortly after we leave the bloc in March 2019, but there is scepticism about how much can be agreed by then. A potential flashpoint is when Parliament gets a vote on a formal withdrawal treaty later this year – which will cover key issues as well as the so-called “divorce” payment, including the rights of EU citizens in the UK, and Brit expats on the continent. – The Sun

Goldman Sachs boss admits he was wrong about Brexit draining London of bankers

The boss of Goldman Sachs today admitted his prediction about Brexit’s impact on the City of London was wrong but insisted the worst was still to come. Lloyd Blankfein had warned banks would abandon London in favour of continental cities like Frankfurt.  He said today he was surprised there had not been ‘more of a dramatic effect’ since the vote to leave the EU in June 2016. Mr Blankfein’s admission comes a day after the boss of Germany’s national bank admitted London will remain Europe’s biggest financial hub after Brexit. – Daily Mail

Goldman Sachs CEO: Brexit effects not as bad as I thought … for now – Politico

> Watch on BrexitCentral’s YouTube channel: Goldman Sachs boss on Brexit: I was wrong

‘Tiny’ firms on Irish border could have tax-free status after Brexit, says David Davis

Small farms and businesses straddling the Irish border could be given tax-free status after Brexit to help smooth trade between the north and the south, David Davis has said. Speaking at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council in Europe, the Brexit secretary said it was important that “tiny” and “very small” businesses had as much support as possible. This was because they may not be eligible for “trusted trader status,” a programme for larger firms which the UK hopes will allow free trade to flow on the island of Ireland. – Telegraph (£)

Australian meeting clears way for UK trade deal after Brexit

Australia will host a new round of trade talks with Britain with an eye to boosting exports, worth $12.6 billion, as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull heads to London next week to build momentum for a deal. British officials will fly to Canberra within days for a “working group” on the free trade agreement, amid hopes on both sides that a deal will commence as soon as Britain leaves the European Union at the end of 2020. Trade Minister Steve Ciobo hit back at fears of a flood of foreign workers under the deal with the United Kingdom in the wake of similar concerns about labour market testing under a free trade agreement with China three years ago. – Sydney Morning Herald

Labour’s Barry Gardiner denies denouncing party’s Brexit policy

Shadow International Trade Secretary Barry Gardiner has denied he was rubbishing one of Labour’s Brexit tests – in a recording of an event in Brussels last month. He told BBC Question Time he was talking about the government’s claims about what could be achieved, not Labour policy. “The government said it will negotiate a free trade agreement that delivers the exact same benefits we have as members of the EU. “I don’t believe they can and that is what I rather colourfully expressed as beyond credibility.”- BBC News

Small business confidence hits highest level since 2015…

Confidence among the UK’s smallest companies has rebounded to 2015 levels, according to the latest SME Confidence Tracker from independent financial services provider, Bibby Financial Services (BFS). The number of SMEs expecting sales to increase between April and June jumped by 13 per cent, with half (50%) expecting to see an increase, when compared with expectations for the first three months of the year. The overall confidence index rose by six basis points from 58 in Q4 2017 to 64 in Q1 2018. It is the highest reading since Q2 2015 when The European Union Referendum Bill was first unveiled in the Queen’s Speech. – Finance Review

…while IoD poll finds confidence at highest levels since Brexit vote

Confidence in the UK is on the rise amongst business leader, showing the highest positive readings for a year, according to a new study by the Institute of Directors. The research among 700 company directors found almost half were confident about prospects for their own company. The IoD said its survey revealed that worries about trade were not among the main three concerns for the first time since Brexit withdrawal negotiations started. Optimism is now higher than at any time since the Prime Minister triggered Article 50 last March. – Insider

One year from Brexit, EU’s British staffers are in limbo

U.K. nationals living in EU27 countries received some clarity about their future from the deal on citizens’ rights struck last month in Brussels. But that deal said nothing about those Brits working as policy officers, translators and clerks within the EU institutions themselves — ironically the individuals who have the most invested in the European project. They have no guarantees about their own professional status post Brexit. EU staff rules say that EU citizenship is a requirement to work in EU institutions unless exceptions are granted. As a consequence of Brexit, all British nationals will lose their EU citizenship. – Politico

Leaked EU files show Brussels cover-up and collusion on Putin’s Gazprom abuses

Vladimir Putin’s abusive stranglehold over European gas supplies has been laid bare by explosive EU documents, exposing deliberate violations of EU law and a pattern of political bullying over almost a decade. The longest investigation in EU history found that the Kremlin-controlled energy giant Gazprom has used its enormous power to pressure vulnerable states in Eastern Europe, and to fragment the EU’s unified energy market with coercive pricing policies. – Telegraph (£)

Richard Brown: After Brexit, robots could do the jobs done by EU migrants

When I was a child in the 1980s, car washes were wondrous, slightly terrifying machines. The car was parked inside a metal frame and then  vigorously assailed by water jets, rollers, buffers and dryers. God help you if you left the aerial up or the windows down. Since then, car washing appears to have regressed, to have de-automated, as teams of men with sponges and buckets have replaced the machines. At some stage it made better business sense to pay people than to buy machinery. So why should we believe any of the stories we read about the rise of the job-gobbling robots? Firstly, the robots are becoming better and cheaper. – Richard Brown for The Times (£)

Asa Bennett: Could Theresa May get away with a customs union climbdown?

Compromise is clearly needed if the Brexit deal is to be agreed, and European negotiators have been clear about what they feel the British must do: accept being part of a customs union post-Brexit. “That offers a significant part of the solution” to the Irish border question, Michel Barnier opined in February. A senior EU official closely involved with the negotiations told my colleague Peter Foster this week that they expected that Theresa May would have to sign up to a “camouflaged” customs union in the end. The only problem for them is that Mrs May has been vehement in her desire for Brexit Britain to be a “global leader in free trade”, arguing that it would be a “betrayal of the British people” to stymie its potential by joining a customs union. To ram that point home, she told MPs that it “would mean that we could not do our own trade deals and would actually betray the vote of the British people”. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

Chopper’s Brexit Podcast: Will we ever leave the EU? Telegraph experts predict the future

This week’s Chopper’s Brexit Podcast comes from the Telegraph‘s newsroom where Christopher Hope, the Telegraph‘s Chief Political Correspondent, peers into the future and asks the simple question: will we ever leave the European Union? Joining him in the studio are: Kate McCann, the Telegraph‘s senior political correspondent; Jeremy Warner, the Telegraph‘s assistant editor and columnist; and Peter Foster, the Telegraph‘s Europe editor. – Chopper’s Brexit Podcast

  • Adam Fleming presents Brexitcast from a Brussels pub – BBC Radio 5

Mark Greaves: Can Britain’s life sciences sector thrive after Brexit?

Much depends on the nature of Brexit. The sector is keen for Britain to stay aligned on medicine regulation, as well as part of several EU directives and programmes. The Government has said that is what it’s aiming for – but it’s unclear, as yet, if the European Commission will agree, or at what cost. One area of concern is clinical trials. EU regulation enables large-scale trials to be conducted easily at various sites across the continent. Professor Alastair Buchan, a neurologist and head of Brexit strategy at Oxford University, said such trials would not take place in Britain unless it stayed signed up to the same rules. ‘We will cross the road,’ he said. ‘We will do our trials in Europe.’ – Mark Greaves for the Spectator

Brexit in Brief

  • Examining Barnier’s latest comments – Henry Newman for Open Europe
  • Trimble warns that Irish Brexit stance risks antagonising loyalist paramilitaries – Henry Hill for ConservativeHome
  • Slippery Brussels seeking EU army by the back door – Peter Lyon for the Commentator
  • Tax cuts must be a part of the post-Brexit agenda – John Redwood MP for CommentCentral
    The rocky road ahead for the Franco-German reform drive of the EU – Open Europe
  • Delaying Brexit day makes sense for leave and remain – Geraint Davies MP for the Guardian
  • Lawson, the BBC and how Ofcom takes bias to a whole new level – Kathy Gyngell for ConservativeWoman
  • German views of the EU and Brexit – John Redwood’s Diary
  • A ‘Global Britain’ must focus on the needs of businesses – Allie Renison for CapX
  • EU criminals won’t cost us and that’s ‘good reason’ to exit – Express editorial
  • City unlikely to get more than “token, minimalist” Brexit deal – City A.M.