Brexit News for Friday 24 November

Brexit News for Friday 24 November
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Michael Gove wins Theresa May’s backing over clean break from EU regulations

Leave campaign boss Michael Gove has won Theresa May’s backing in a furious Cabinet tussle over a clean Brexit from all EU rules, friends say. The PM’s top table is bitterly split over how close to stick to regulations issued by Brussels after the UK leaves. EU chiefs say Britain will only get a good trade deal if it agrees to keep standards closely harmonised, from competition rules to food safety. But the Environment Secretary is now confident that he and fellow Brexiteer Boris Johnson have finally won round Mrs May to reject the demand. Instead, the PM is ready to make a stand and tell other EU leaders that Britain will diverge from ‘regulatory harmonisation’, he believes. It has also emerged that Mrs May has set a very rapid deal for a transition period as her price for a £40bn divorce deal. – The Sun

> Hugh Bennett on BrexitCentral: The Government must not agree to regulatory harmonisation in any post-Brexit trade deal with the EU

Theresa May bids to break Brexit impasse today by telling Brussels she’s prepared to give ground on divorce bill

Theresa May will tell Donald Tusk on Friday she is prepared to give ground on the Brexit divorce bill as Brussels demands a written guarantee of more money to unlock trade talks. The European Council President will make it clear to the Prime Minister that Britain must give a “no strings attached” promise of paying substantially more than the current £20 billion on offer. Mrs May, who this week won the backing of senior Cabinet ministers to make an offer that could run to 40 billion euros, has not ruled out giving the EU a written breakdown of what Britain considers its financial obligations to be, but will insist on a written guarantee of trade talks in return. – Telegraph (£)

  • Michel Barnier accused of “backtracking” after Brexit divorce bill ultimatum climbdown – City A.M.

> Julian Jessop today on BrexitCentral: Even if we agree on a Brexit divorce bill, what would we be getting in return?

EU cancels UK bids to host European Capital of Culture mid-process

The U.K. government is having “urgent discussions” with Brussels after the European Commission said a British city could not be European Capital of Culture in 2023. “We disagree with the decision and we are particularly disappointed that we’ve been informed of this after the cities submitted their bids,” a spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May said. “As the prime minister said, we are leaving the EU; we are not leaving Europe.” The spokesperson would not confirm if May will raise the issue on Friday when she travels to Brussels for the Eastern Partnership Summit. – Politico

Theresa May to warn of ‘hostile’ Russia threat to EU security…

PM Theresa May is to warn EU leaders to be wary of “hostile states like Russia” and pledge the UK will stay committed to European security after Brexit. In Brussels for a summit, she will say it is crucial that European countries work together to “protect our shared values and ideals”. She will also discuss Brexit with European Council President Donald Tusk. Last week Mr Tusk said the UK must show more progress on the “divorce bill” if trade talks were to begin this year. On Friday, Mrs May is expected to stress the need for a unified approach to security as the UK leaves the EU. – BBC

…as the Spanish government claim the Prime Minister has ‘more important’ issues to worry about than Gibraltar

Theresa May’s government appears to have “more important things” to worry about than the fate of 28,000 Gibraltarians, according to Spanish sources who warned Gibraltar will crash out of the Single Market without the cushion of a Brexit deal transition deal. After Mrs May triggered the Brexit negotiations in March, the EU blindsided the British government by insisting that any deal could only apply to Gibraltar if Spain agreed. The EU-27 negotiating mandate effectively takes Madrid’s side in the centuries-old territorial dispute over the rock. Senior Spanish government sources today told The Guardian that the British government had made no proposals at all to it regarding the future of Gibraltar. – Telegraph

  • Brexit deal ‘must work for Gibraltar’, says Downing Street – Guardian

Alastair Campbell’s outrageous off-air jibe at Gisela Stuart: “You’ve got another country to go to”

Is Brexit red mist clouding the Remainiac Alastair Campbell’s judgement? Tony Blair’s aggressive former spin doctor went a bit Ukip at the Labour Leaver Gisela Stuart before the pair appeared on BBC One’s Sunday Politics. “When are you going to stop f**king up my country?” growled raging Ali. “It’s my country, too,” shot back the upset German-born Stuart, the Birmingham Edgbaston MP for two decades until quitting last June. Campbell’s second verbal punch – “You’ve got another country to go to” – was so below the belt that, aimed by a Brextremist at a Stayer, might have had the snarling rottie denouncing xenophobia. Stuart has lived in Britain since 1974. – New Statesman

DUP’s Nigel Dodds accuses EU of ‘acting like an adversary in the Brexit talks’

The European Union is acting like an “adversary” in the Brexit talks and Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has to be prepared to walk away, Nigel Dodds says today. Mr Dodds, the Westminster leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, which is supporting the minority Tory government, said Mrs May should be prepared to spend more on planning for a no deal exit. He told Chopper’s Brexit Podcast: “We are very keen to see bigger and better preparations to be made for Brexit by the Chancellor – so the £3 billion he set aside is a lot better than what he has talked about previously.” – Telegraph

Coveney hopeful of deal on border within weeks

Ireland, armed with an EU veto and its insistence on an open Irish border after Brexit, is hopeful that agreement can be reached by mid-December but believes sufficient progress has yet to be made. Simon Coveney, the minister for foreign affairs, said yesterday that the government needed more clarity from London. The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which will be the UK’s only land frontier with the EU after it leaves the bloc, is one of three issues that Brussels wants broadly solved before it decides next month whether to move talks into a second phase about trade, as Britain wants. – The Times (£)

  • Irish government on brink of collapseExpress
  • The Irish stance against Brexit is a dangerous gamble – James Forsyth for the Spectator

Brexit NHS pledge could still be met, claims Hammond aide

The NHS could still get the £350m a week funding boost promised on the Brexit bus, the Chancellor’s aide has claimed – amid warnings that the latest cash boost will be spent in one day. Health officials will meet next week to discuss rationing measures, after expressing disappointment at the funds awarded in Wednesday’s budget. The health service will receive an immediate cash boost of £350m to tide it through the winter, as part of a £2.8bn boost to revenue funding over three years. – Telegraph (£)

EU officials scornful over UK’s performance in Brexit negotiations, leaked report shows

The Government’s performance in the Brexit negotiations has been branded chaotic and incoherent, according to a leaked paper setting out the private views of European officials. An internal Irish government document reveals top EU figures describing Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, as “unimpressive”.  The confidential document, which has been obtained by RTE news, also shows officials bemoaning “the quality of politicians in Westminster” – Telegraph (£)

Telegraph: Theresa May must take a tough line with Brussels to show that Britain is serious about Brexit

Theresa May travels to Brussels today for talks with Donald Tusk, the president of the EU Council, in the latest attempt to unblock the current Brexit stalemate. The aim is to choreograph a transition from the current negotiations over money, Ireland and EU citizens’ rights, into a wider discussion about the future relationship between the UK and Europe. After a meeting of ministers earlier this week, the Government is now prepared to make a further financial offer provided the EU side signals at the same time its readiness to move forward on the understanding that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. This decision needs to be made at a summit in Brussels early next month, which is now taking on all the trappings of a crunch confrontation. – Telegraph editorial

Steven Woolfe: Here’s how we can cut through the Brexit deadlock: get a deal on conformity then get out

It’s time to walk away, and the way to do it is through what I call ‘WTO 2.0’. A lot of fuss has been made about trade tariffs after the UK leaves the EU, but this is not the biggest obstacle. We already have ‘Most-Favoured-Nation’ status with the WTO. This means that countries – including the EU – will not be able to penalise us with inequitably high tariffs; if the EU sets tariffs for the US at one level, it has to give all other countries those same tariffs too. This means that tariffs are pretty manageable – remember that Australia, India and other countries export to the EU under these terms without economic collapse. – Steven Woolfe MEP for the Telegraph (£)

Carolyn Fairbairn: A bad Brexit will cost Britain dear in lost business

It’s an unavoidable truth that Brexit is already affecting investment and jobs. Every day companies describe ambitions shelved and contingency plans drawn up to move people and supply chains out of the UK. There is no time to lose. We are approaching a watershed, where a trickle of lost opportunity could become a flood and even an emergency. This makes the next European Council vital, for our economy and across the EU. To avert serious economic cost, the stalemate must be broken. The evidence is piling up and must not be ignored by either side. – Carolyn Fairbairn for the Times (£)

Iain Dale: Don’t believe claims of fewer EU nationals and doctors since the Brexit vote

Over the last year, we’ve also constantly been told that doctors and nurses from the EU are flooding out of the NHS, and going back to their home nations. It’s become a narrative which has been accepted all across the media. My LBC colleague, James O’Brien, speaks of little else. And yet it’s total bollocks. It is a lie. The latest figures show that there are actually more EU doctors in the NHS a year on from the referendum than there were on June 23 2016. – Iain Dale for ConservativeHome

> Mark Tinsley on BrexitCentral: Claims of an exodus of EU NHS staff do not stand up to the NHS’s own data

Comment in Brief

  • Philip Hammond shouldn’t try to build Brexit Britain on the cheap – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)
  • Britain is nowhere near ready to walk away from the EU. But we can still avoid Brexit doomsday – Ben Kelly for the Telegraph (£)
  • Michael Bloomberg on Trump, Brexit and whether he’ll run for president  – Telegraph
  • Norway is hard on migrants – but tough love works – Fraser Nelson for the Spectator
  • In the age of uncertainty, Brand Britain is a beacon of endurance – Martin Sorrell for City A.M.

News in brief

  • Ireland faces possible Christmas election as Varadkar’s government on brink of collapse – Express
  • Britain must accept more immigrants if it wants a free trade deal, Indian diplomat warns – Telegraph (£)
  • EU lawmakers could delay agency relocation – Politico
  • Judge attacks quality of UK politicians involved in Brexit Telegraph (£)
  • Cross-party support grows for Merkel minority government – Politico
  • EU authorities consider creating data breach justice league to tackle uber hack – City A.M.
  • Non-EU migrant wins right to stay in the UK every 36 seconds Daily Mail
  • Indy retracts animal sentience story – Guido Fawkes
  • British law will recognise that animals feel pain, pledges Michael Gove – The Times (£)