Brexit News for Friday 30th September

Brexit News for Friday 30th September

Liam Fox gives clearest signs yet that the Government will pursue a clean Brexit

Liam Fox has given the strongest hint yet that the Government will prioritise border controls over membership of the Single Market after it leaves the European Union. The International Trade Secretary yesterday heralded the “glorious opportunity” of Brexit as he said for the first time that he wants Britain to become a full independent member of the World Trade Organisation. The move makes it increasingly likely that Britain will abandon full membership of the Single Market so it can bring in curbs on the free movement of EU migrants. – Daily Telegraph

“As a newly independent WTO member outside the EU, we will continue to fight for trade liberalisation as well as potentially helping developing markets trade their way out of poverty by giving them preferential access to our markets… The UK is a full and founding member of the WTO, though we have chosen to be represented by the EU in recent years,” he said. “As we establish our independent position post-Brexit, we will carry the standard of free and open trade as a badge of honour.” – Liam Fox quoted in The Guardian

  • Markus Kerber, head of Germany’s biggest business lobby group, says it would be better for the UK to have a clean break from the EU rather than some kind of “fudge” – BBC
  • Read Liam Fox’s speech in full at the Department for International Trade website

Diplomat offensive underway to explore potential terms of Brexit deal…

The prime minister is reaching out to governments across Europe to try to ensure that Britain’s negotiating position is not rebuffed out of hand when the government triggers Article 50. Amid growing nervousness in Whitehall over the potential for a disorderly exit from the EU, British diplomats have been charged with sounding out other European governments over what kind of future deal is feasible. – The Times (£)

…as Whitehall seeks high flyers to manage life outside the EU…

The civil service is preparing to recruit a record number of fast-stream graduates as Whitehall gears up to cope with the mass repatriation of policymaking responsibilities after Brexit. As part of its annual recruitment drive launched yesterday, government departments are looking to hire 1,000 trainees — up by nearly 20 per cent on two years ago and double the number of fast-stream entrants in 2010. – The Times (£)

…and Theresa May demands “mountains of paperwork” so she can get the best Brexit deal

The workaholic PM has stunned civil service mandarins with her demands for intricate details about Brussels workings, from trade to agriculture.They stand in stark contrast to predecessor David Cameron, who asked for crisp ‘three page’ briefing notes on EU issues. – The Sun

UK now picking its EU court battles as Brexit nears…

After 43 years of fighting to halt measures the country regards as overreaching European integration, the British government has waved a white flag. The scene of the retreat: a dispute over whether EU lawmakers have the power to approve a milk and bananas subsidy for schoolchildren. The case is the first evidence that UK ministers won’t pursue low-priority cases to focus on the Brexit negotiations. – MLex

…as lawyers gear up to sue government over Brexit process

Many lawyers believe the legal challenge is unlikely to succeed because courts are reluctant to intervene in the exercise of power in foreign affairs, including treaties. They point to a doomed 1971 legal case against the government brought by Raymond Blackburn, who argued that Britain’s entry to the European Common Market would be unlawful because it involved surrender of the sovereignty of the Queen in parliament. – FT (£)

‘Accept the will of British people’, Europhiles told

Anti-Brexit Tories were under attack today for blasting the Government’s European Union policy. Former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who was sacked from the government in July by new Prime Minister Theresa May, was lambasted for “carping” after she complained the administration “lacked a plan” for leaving the EU. Former Cabinet minister Ken Clarke claimed ministers did not have “the first idea” what to do… Jonathan Isaby, editor of the new BrexitCentral website which tracks developments and promotes an optimistic vision for Britain outside the EU, said: “It is sad to see that the mandate achieved less than 100 days ago is not being universally respected by politicians who ought to hold the democratic process in greater esteem.” – Daily Express

New report finds Britain’s ruling classes were the only group to vote to stay in the EU at referendum

The report from the Centre for Social Justice and Legatum Institute found that people in the “AB” class – the middle and upper classes – were the only group which had a majority voting to Remain at the June 23 referendum. The majority of people in all the other income groups – described as C1, C2, D and E – all voted to leave, the report said. – Daily Telegraph

  • Brexit offers once in a lifetime chance to reshape public policy, says CSJ/Legatum report – Daily Express

Consumer confidence surges to pre-Brexit levels

British consumer morale rocketed back to pre-Brexit levels in September, a survey found, confounding expectations that the vote to leave the EU would wreak more lasting damage on Britons’ willingness to spend. Market research firm GfK’s gauge of consumer confidence suffered its sharpest drop in over 26 years in July as economists said Brexit would pitch the economy into recession, but data suggests Britain has avoided a rapid slump. – Reuters

A separate survey of UK businesses by Lloyds Bank showed confidence levels increased by 8 points to 24pc in September amid a “ significant increase” in economic optimism. – Daily Telegraph

Housing market shows signs of a post-Brexit surge as mortgage approvals rise and experts slam Project Fear warnings

Economists said the gloomy warnings of a fall in house prices had ‘proved to be wide of the mark’. The ‘paralysis’ in the immediate aftermath of June’s shock vote to leave the EU had subsided, mortgage lenders said. Mortgage lending rebounded last month, with the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) reporting its strongest August since 2007. – Daily Mail

  • Post-Brexit demand for residential property is good news for developers and investors – City A.M.

More than 90% of Brits have not changed their travel plans since Brexit

The UK, it appears, is refusing to let this summer’s shock Brexit result mess with their travel plans. Despite fears over an unstable pound and Britain’s changing involvement with the EU after voting to break its union, more than 90 per cent say their travel plans haven’t changed. – Daily Mail

Super-rich reaping the benefits of Common Agricultural Policy while they still can

The top 100 CAP recipients took in £87.9m in 2015, with the 16 of them on the Sunday Times Rich List accounting for £13.4m. They include the Queen, a Saudi prince, the late Duke of Westminster, the Duke of Northumberland, estates owner Sir Richard Sutton, the Earl of Moray, Baron Phillimore and his family, and the Earl of Plymouth. Of the £87.9m, £61.2m came from the “single payment scheme,” where the size of the land owned determines the amount paid out by the EU. – Morning Star

  • How the WTO can help untangle post-Brexit agricultural policy – Daniel Guéguen for EurActiv
  • UK ‘consistently waters down’ reforms of EU farming subsidies – EurActiv

Spanish minister begs EU not to bring Gibraltar into Brexit negotiations

In a letter sent by the Spanish foreign minister to his counterparts across Europe and the president of the European Commission and European Council, he said it was “essential” that sovereignty of the Rock was not included in Brexit discussions. Jose Manuel García-Margallo told foreign ministers across the EU: “It is essential that the issue is excluded from negotiations to establish a new framework for relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom. I beg you to grant this approach your total support and understanding.” – Daily Express

Brussels eyes up Britain’s seat at the UN Security Council

EU bigwigs are “desperate” to secure a spot at the United Nations’ top table and may try to take advantage of the Leave vote to launch a diplomatic coup… Eurocrats have made no secret of their desire to replace either Britain or France on the UN Security Council, which has just five permanent members. Last year, in a provocative move, the European Parliament voted through a resolution calling on London and Paris to relinquish their places to Brussels. – Daily Express

Confusion reigns over whether ‘unfortunate cock-up’ caused Labour conference to endorse wrong motion

The motion, which was passed at an economic forum, said the following: “Unless the final settlement proves to be acceptable, then the option of retaining EU membership should be retained. The final settlement should, therefore, be subject to approval, through Parliament and potentially through a general election or a referendum.” However, the party’s chief administrative body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), released a statement hours later saying this wasn’t actually Labour’s official approach to handling Brexit. The statement said: “Conference policy on Brexit has been misinterpreted in some reports as committing Labour to a second referendum on UK membership for the EU, so far the avoidance of doubt we want to make clear that is not our policy.” – Business Insider UK

Scottish Labour MEP urges ‘maximum devolution’ after Brexit vote

The union can only remain workable if “maximum devolution” is handed to Scotland, according to a senior Labour MEP. David Martin said there is growing support within his party for another new constitutional settlement in the wake of the Brexit vote. – The Herald

Martin Schulz set to be challenged for European Parliament presidency

A broken deal between the European Parliament’s two main blocs has turned the election for the assembly’s president — a foregone conclusion the last time around — into a free-for-all. Martin Schulz, the current president from the Socialists & Democrats, looks reluctant to honor his promise to Manfred Weber of the conservative European People’s Party to step down after his second two-and-a-half-year term and make way for the EPP — which won’t give up without a fight.-

  • European Parliament hands Committee of the Regions £27,000 of our cash to spend on tea and biscuits – Daily Express

Nick Faith: Theresa May should open Tory conference by telling us when she’ll trigger Article 50

Traditionally the leader’s welcoming speech has been little more than a motivational exercise, a short address meant gee up the party faithful and stick it to Labour. I suspect this year’s may be a little different and Mrs May will have to say something substantive about the biggest question in British politics today: when will she invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and start the formal process of Brexit? … I would go as far as saying that Mrs May’s honeymoon period as a new PM is almost certain to come to an end if she doesn’t set out a clear timescale for when Brexit negotiations will begin. – Nick Faith in the Daily Telegraph

Rachel Reeves MP: My priorities for the renegotiation

Immigration controls and ending free movement has to be a red line post-Brexit – otherwise we will be holding the voters in contempt… The challenge for Labour now is how we get the best deal for working-class voters – many of whom have drifted to other parties including Ukip – and ensure the best economic settlement in terms of trade, immigration, growth and good jobs… We need tough negotiations to keep exports and imports tariff-free in the interests of British – and European – exporters as well as consumers. – Rachel Reeves MP for the Yorkshire Post

Bernard Jenkin MP: We can tell you exactly what Brexit means

The Article 50 process for leaving the EU replaced the implied unilateral right to leave with an invidious process that massively adds potential uncertainty….Unless we want to be held over a barrel by the EU Commission, our negotiators will have be prepared to lay down clear terms for the withdrawal agreement at the outset, and make it clear that we can walk away without any deal at all….we should offer tariff free access for the EU for all EU goods, and our open market for services (which the EU has never matched) including passporting for financial services, if they will agree to do the same. – Bernard Jenkin for The Times (£) Red Box

Ryan Avent: Whisper it softly, but Brexit could be a great liberator

Despite Brexit there are reasons for optimism; the digital revolution might again be London’s saviour. London’s economy might prove more resilient in the face of Brexit than some suppose. The personal connections and corporate cultures that have evolved are hard to transport elsewhere. – Ryan Avent in the Evening Standard

Over at the Guardian, Anatole Kaletsky says Brussels must stop treating Brexit as inevitable and offer a new deal to keep Britain in the EU

By legitimising the concept of an EU breakup, and so turning a fantasy among political extremists into a realistic option of mainstream politics throughout Europe, Brexit threatens to trigger an irresistible disintegration process… The EU urgently needs to put the genie of disintegration back in its bottle. That means persuading Britain to change its mind about Europe. – Anatole Kaletsky in The Guardian

…while Polly Toynbee is evidently yet to be persuaded that Brexit will work out…

Gestures and dreams can ignore the terrible prospect of years of brain-crunching negotiations on every detailed aspect of trade and regulation for every product and service, which might take not two but 10 years of soul-destroying and pointless agony, distracting from all the country’s other pressing problems. And a good result of all this would be merely to end up no worse off. – Polly Toynbee in The Guardian

  • Stop telling me to ‘get over’ Brexit – James Moore in The Independent

…and the FT’s Martin Wolf talks down the ‘mediocre’ UK economy

If the UK is to thrive economically, it will not be enough for it to manage Brexit, hard though that will surely be. Its policymakers must also start from a realistic assessment of the UK’s mediocre performance. This is no world-beating economy. – Martin Wolf in FT (£)

  • If the City takes a hit over Brexit and the economy suffers, it might actually help rebalance the UK’s economy – Mary Dejevsky in The Independent

Brexit comment in brief

Brexit news in brief

  • Alastair Campbell reveals Tony Blair considered the European President’s job in 2004 – Daily Telegraph
  • Health minister concedes that the ‘Brexit bonus’ will not all go to the NHS – PoliticsHome
  • Nissan wants government guarantee of compensation for any post-Brexit export tariffs – The Times (£)
  • Europe sees UK as soft touch on migration, says Archbishop of York – The Times (£)
  • Two thirds want some free movement despite EU vote – The Times Red Box
  • Austrian Finance Minister calls for Brexit process to begin as soon as possible – Reuters
  • Brexit: What are the options? – BBC
  • Germany will foot the bill for southern states when EU implodes – Daily Express
  • EU’s £1bn bribe to make teens back Brussels: Free inter-railing! – Daily Mail