Britain 'will not be able to leave customs union until 2023', ministers told: Brexit News for Friday 4 May

Britain 'will not be able to leave customs union until 2023', ministers told: Brexit News for Friday 4 May
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Britain ‘will not be able to leave customs union until 2023’, ministers told

Britain will be unable to leave the customs union before 2023, ministers have been told, leading to fears that the delay will be exploited by Remainers to thwart Brexit. In a briefing to the Cabinet’s Brexit sub-committee earlier this week, senior civil servants said highly complex new technology that will be needed to operate Britain’s borders after Brexit might not be ready for another five years… One senior Brexiteer told The Telegraph: “There are genuine concerns that this delay will lead to the UK staying in the customs union permanently. Regardless of that, if we are still in the customs union by the time of the next general election in 2022 it will cause a catastrophe at the polls because we will not have delivered Brexit and voters will not have seen any benefits of leaving the EU.” – Telegraph

  • Brexit transition must be extended, according to UK officials – Bloomberg

It’s no surprise that future customs plans are taking time to formulate, says David Davis…

There should be no surprise that it is taking time to decide on a future customs arrangement with the European Union, Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis said on Thursday. Prime Minister Theresa May’s so-called Brexit war cabinet met on Wednesday and has yet to decide on a proposal for future customs arrangements that will prevent a return to the hard border with EU member Ireland. – Reuters

…as Brexiteers fear Gavin Williamson is under pressure to back May’s customs plan

Pro-Brexit ministers fear Downing Street will try to pick off the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, in the coming days – to break the cabinet deadlock and secure a majority for Theresa May’s favoured customs plan. A two-and-a-half-hour meeting of the prime minister’s Brexit subcommittee ended without agreement on Wednesday, after the home secretary, Sajid Javid, sided with hardline Brexiters to reject a new customs partnership. Williamson, who was rapidly promoted from chief whip to defence secretary, was the least vocal of those expressing doubts about the customs partnership on Wednesday. “They’ll call him in and try to promise him something; they’ll ask him what his price is,” said one Whitehall source. – Guardian

  • Brexit Secretary David Davis hints he may quit Cabinet because of Britain’s customs union row – The Sun

EU backs Ireland’s threat to veto Brexit trade deal

Ireland has the backing of European leaders to halt Brexit trade talks next month if Theresa May, the British prime minister, fails to force through a customs pact that avoids a hard border with Northern Ireland. Senior EU officials have told Downing Street that the European summit next month will suspend negotiations on a future partnership until the customs issue is resolved… The threat of an Irish “veto” emerged at a private meeting in Dublin last week. It is understood that Simon Coveney, the tánaiste, said that the Irish government would not allow any slippage beyond June for a broad outline of an agreement on the Irish border. He said that the Irish position had the support of Brussels and the UK government was fully aware of its demands. – The Times (£)

Theresa May holding back key Brexit bills to avoid Commons defeats

Theresa May  May is to hold back key Brexit bills from the Commons until the Autumn to try to duck a devastating defeat over the customs union. The No10 decision comes after Chief Whip Julian Smith told the PM that she does not have the numbers to defeat rebel pro-EU Tories. The two bills – the Customs Bill and the Trade Bill – must be passed before the UK’s EU exit to avoid border chaos. But 20 Conservative MPs are now expected to side with Labour by amending them to keep Britain in the Brussels institution, that prevents an independent trade policy. Instead of risking the disaster for Mrs May’s Brexit negotiation, The Sun has learned No10 is looking at a fresh plan to wait until a deal is provisionally agreed with the EU at a crunch October summit before risking a Commons vote on them. – The Sun

  • Customs union debacle could be May’s back me or sack me moment – City A.M.

Defra and trade department ‘in dark’ over Brexit preparations, claims Remain-dominated parliamentary committee

Two departments are being “left in the dark” about how to prepare for Brexit and lack a “clear plan” of priorities, a committee of MPs has warned. The environment and trade departments have been hampered by “pervasive uncertainty” about the UK’s future relationship with the EU, they said. Defra must drop or postpone some non-EU projects if it is to deliver its EU Exit programme, it suggests. The government said Whitehall was “rising to the challenge” of Brexit. In its report, the public accounts committee noted the “unprecedented challenge” facing Defra and the Department for International Trade. Defra is among the departments most affected by Brexit, dealing with 64 areas related to it, including import controls on animals and animal products, to the authorisation of new chemical products. – BBC News

  • Brexit ‘impossible challenge’ for environment and trade departments – Guardian

EU has no plans to downgrade use of English after Brexit

The EU’s executive body has no plans to downgrade the use of English after Brexit, despite occasional barbs that the language would be less significant in Europe when the UK leaves the bloc. Buried in the small print of the European commission’s proposed budget for 2021-27 is confirmation that it has no intention to reduce the use of English in its meetings or documents. “The withdrawal of the United Kingdom will result in a limited reorientation of some functions within the administration, but the scope of activities will not change,” the section on EU administration says. “Translation and interpretation services in the English language will also remain unaffected.” – Guardian

Form alliance with Switzerland, Hong Kong and Singapore to boost City after Brexit, argues Shanker Singham in new report

The City should forge alliances with other major financial hubs to strengthen and boost its position in the post-Brexit world, a new report by influential trade wonk Shanker Singham argues. According to Singham and co-author Catherine McBride, both of whom left Legatum to join the Institute of Economic Affairs in March, the UK should use the opportunity to “reshape its own regime” by removing unnecessary processes and focusing on outcomes, before looking to take a leading role in global standards. Forming an alliance with markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland – similar to the F4 model proposed by the Swiss Bankers Alliance in 2016 – would enable “further and deeper integration opportunities”, while a UK regime of multilateral mutual recognition (MMR) “would allow the UK to strengthen its involvement in global regulation formation and dispute resolution”, the report argues. – City A.M.

Manufacturing investment plans hit four-year high

Rowan Crozier, chief executive of Brandauer, a Birmingham-based precision engineering company, said his business has been “sat in the doldrums” in recent years. Multiple economic “blips” — including the 2008 financial crisis and the EU referendum — have put the company off making any significant investments. But Mr Crozier said that sustained growth for the past 18 months has given Brandauer the confidence to start spending. The company is planning to invest £1.35m this year in more of the specialist pressing and cutting machines it uses to produce components used in washing machines, cars and plumbing equipment. Brandauer is not alone, according to surveys conducted by the Bank of England’s regional agents, which have found that while investment intentions remained sluggish overall in the first quarter of this year, in the manufacturing sector they reached their highest level for four years. – FT (£)

Juncker urges Belgian citizenship for UK staff

The EU Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, has urged Belgium to grant citizenship to British EU staff worried about their post-Brexit status. About 1,100 UK citizens work for the EU in Brussels and Luxembourg. Mr Juncker called Belgium a kind host and asked its prime minister, Charles Michel, to “show the same generosity when it comes to granting Belgian citizenship” to British EU staff. When the UK leaves the EU next March Britons will lose their EU citizenship. The UK and EU have already pledged to protect citizens’ rights after Brexit, but that does not mean granting nationality. Article 49 of the EU staff rules states that “an official may be required to resign” if he or she loses their EU citizenship and is no longer a national of an EU member state. Many British EU staff are longstanding residents with families. – BBC News

Westminster ready to overrule MSPs over Brexit powers row

The Scottish secretary has refused to give MSPs a guarantee that Westminster will not overrule them if they withhold consent for key Brexit legislation. David Mundell said he still hoped the Scottish parliament would grant legislative consent to the UK government’s EU withdrawal bill. However, Bruce Crawford, the former Scottish minister and convener of Holyrood’s constitution committee, said there was now a “distinct possibility” MSPs would not approve the bill. While this would not veto the legislation, it would be the first time the UK government has passed legislation against Holyrood’s wishes. – The Times (£)

Telegraph: Message to the Government – Brexit means leaving the Customs Union

Fundamentally, the red line for any future relationship with the EU is that it guarantees the right of Britain to pursue an independent trading policy. Neither a customs partnership or sticking to the Customs Union would achieve this, therefore the Government must mobilise against them. But it must also explain its reasoning – and thus turn the tables on the Remainers. What do they want? To chain Britain to the EU in perpetuity? To overturn the referendum result? Neither would be very popular with the voters. – Telegraph editorial

Lord Empey: If unelected peers keep rejecting the will of MPs over Brexit, it will cause a crisis

I firmly believe that at the end of the day the views of the elected House must prevail, but there are some here who are so determined for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union that they may not accept the decision of the Commons. I hope this does not happen, but successive prime ministers have created the situation the government now finds itself in. David Cameron filled the House of Lords with a disproportionate amount of Liberal Democrats — there are over 100 in the Lords yet only 12 in the Commons – Lord Empey for the Belfast News Letter

Paul Embery: Our working class is not racist — they’ve just been shafted by the liberal elite

The whole debate around immigration has been toxified by what the ruling elites imposed on places such as Barking and Dagenham. They shook a kaleidoscope then stood back in surprise when the pieces didn’t fall exactly where they wanted. Remember all this the next time you hear someone speak of London as the greatest city in the world. Chances are the words are being spoken by a politician or a celebrity or a middle-class liberal from one of the trendier parts of town. For there are, in reality, two Londons. One half — alienated, neglected and resentful — represents a potentially formidable army at the ballot box. – Paul Embery for The Sun

John Redwood: The EU budget 2021-27

It was interesting yesterday to hear the media telling us the EU would lose a net 15bn Euros from the UK’s exit from the EU, much in line with the £12bn net UK gain  figure I and others used throughout the referendum campaign. Remain supporters used to tell us it was nothing like as much as this. I hope they were listening. It was also interesting to see the priorities for increased spending by the EU. They propose increasing defence expenditure 22 fold from a low base. They want to spend 2.6 times as much on  borders, and 2.5 times as much on civil protection as in the present budget period. We were told there would be no EU army, yet work continues apace to increase the EU’s role in Member states defence. – John Redwood’s Diary

Brexit in brief

  • The rocky parliamentary road to Brexit – Michael Mosbacher for CapX
  • BBC polling expert – A lesson from this poll. The Conservatives must “deliver on Brexit in a way that will satisfy the aspirations of Leave voters” – ConservativeHome
  • Lord Lamont warns Barnier’s ‘overplayed’ Brexit demands could have dangerous consequences – Express
  • Unionist MP Lady Sylvia Hermon expects to see border poll – BBC News
  • Unionist MEPs in Brexit talks with Michel Barnier – BBC News
  • German fury as EU demands more money for budget to make up British shortfall – Express
  • The euro area’s economy loses momentum – The Economist
  • Call for ‘zero tariff’ Brexit Scotch whisky deal – BBC News