David Davis hits out at "bad faith" EU: Brexit News for Friday 9 February

David Davis hits out at
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David Davis accuses EU of being ‘discourteous’ and acting in bad faith over transition ‘punishment’ plan…

The Brexit Secretary criticised Brussels after it threatened to ground flights, suspend single market access and impose trade tariffs on the UK during the transition period. Mr Davis said that the proposals to sanction Britain were “not in good faith” and the decision by Brussels to publish the proposals were “unwise”. A DExEU source said that the proposals were “ridiculous” and had provoked “consternation” across the Government. It came amid mounting frustration at the lack of progress in Brexit negotiations. The European Union cancelled several meetings with British negotiators this week and is not holding any next week. The source accused Brussels of deliberately stalling negotiations in a bid to reduce negotiating time and increase pressure on Britain. “They’re playing games,” the source said. Mr Davis told Sky News: “I do not think it was in good faith to publish a document with frankly discourteous language and actually implying that they could arbitrarily terminate in effect the implementation period. That’s not what the aim of this exercise is, it’s not in good faith and we think it was unwise to publish it.” – Telegraph

  • Davis Davis attacks ‘unwise’ EU after punishment threat – Sky News
  • EU leaked paper discourteous, says David Davis – BBC News
  • David Davis takes a swipe at ‘discourteous’ Brussels – The Times (£)
  • David Davis accuses EU of acting in bad faith over Brexit transition plans – Politico
  • German official says Brexit banks must pick EU base by June – Bloomberg

…as Theresa May calls on ministers to support ‘bold’ post-Brexit relationship with EU that will “carry widespread support”

The Prime Minister delivered her message during a two-hour meeting of her inner “war cabinet” on Thursday which failed to agree on what future UK-EU trade relationship to pursue during negotiations. Downing Street has refused to comment on reports that Mrs May ordered ministers on the Brexit subcommittee to an away day at Chequers later this month to resolve their differences… On Thursday night, a Number 10 source said: “The PM told the Brexit Cabinet that the Government had to be ambitious in the deal we seek. “She said her starting point was to aim for something that hadn’t been done before in order to come to a new relationship that will last a generation or more. Her approach is to seek a deal that is bold, in the best interests of the UK and that will carry widespread support.” – Telegraph

  • Never compromise on UK’s Brexit demands, May tells team – Tim Ross for Bloomberg
  • Theresa May kicks Brexit can down the road – John Pienaar for BBC News

EU tries to force Northern Ireland to stay in single market after Brexit

UK negotiators have been warned that the EU draft withdrawal agreement will stipulate that Northern Ireland will, in effect, remain in the customs union and single market after Brexit to avoid a hard border. The uncompromising legal language of the draft agreement is likely to provoke a major row, something all parties to the negotiations have been trying to avoid. British officials negotiating in Brussels were told by their counterparts that there could be a “sunset clause” included in the legally binding text, which is due to be published in around two weeks. Such a legal device would make the text null and void at a future date should an unexpectedly generous free trade deal, or a hitherto unimagined technological solution emerge that could be as effective as the status quo in avoiding the need for border infrastructure. As it stands, however, the UK is expected by Brussels to sign off on the text which will see Northern Ireland remain under EU law at the end of the 21-month transition period, wherever it is relevant to the north-south economy, and the requirements of the Good Friday agreement. The move is widely expected to cause ructions within both the Conservative party and between the government and the Democratic Unionist party, whose 10 MPs give Theresa May her working majority in the House of Commons. – Guardian

> Hugh Bennett on BrexitCentral yesterday: It’s time to stop doom-mongering over the Irish border – the solutions are already out there

EU memo of Barnier meeting raises questions over Jeremy Corbyn’s Brexit policy

Jeremy Corbyn told Michel Barnier that he was open to keeping Britain in the customs union after Brexit, a memo circulated to European nations suggests… According to a memo of the meeting [on Monday], drawn up after a debrief between Mr Barnier and ambassadors from the other 27 EU nations, Mr Corbyn said that he was willing to allow the UK to submit to the rulings of the European Court of Justice should he become prime minister… EU diplomats believe the Labour leader was deliberately seeking to undermine Theresa May in Brexit negotiations. One source jokingly likened it to “asking for a coup d’etat”. Mr Corbyn’s offer to Mr Barnier, as detailed in the memo, contrasts with official Labour policy on Brexit, which is to leave the customs union. Last night Labour denied the contents of the memo, saying: “Jeremy did not say he was open to staying in the customs union. He said that a customs union was a viable end point.” – Telegraph (£)

  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is accused of undermining the PM because of secret memo suggesting he would run Brexit ‘differently’ – The Sun
  • How Labour leader is positioning himself to take advantage of EU’s frustrations with Theresa May – Peter Foster for the Telegraph (£)
  • Jeremy Corbyn may feel like a statesman, but he’s actually Michel Barnier’s useful idiot – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

> Labour Leave’s Brendan Chilton on BrexitCentral today: Labour should use Brexit as an opportunity to really take back control and return power to people

Gina Miller says Soros-backed campaign to overturn Brexit is ‘undemocratic’

Gina Miller, who founded Best for Britain, said the public has a “right to know” who is backing the organisation as she criticised its tactics. Her intervention comes after The Telegraph disclosed that George Soros, the billionaire known as the man who “broke the Bank of England”, is backing the campaign… Ms Miller told The Telegraph: “When I read the coverage I pulled back and thought this is not where I think this should be going. It was a good decision to part ways. It [Best for Britain] is undemocratic. One of the objectives cannot be to bring down a Government, not without an election or a referendum. This idea of bringing down a Government and guerrilla warfare, I don’t agree with any of that. I’m a transparency campaigner, it doesn’t matter which side of the argument you are on. If you are going to have funders who are getting involved in something that could determine Britain’s future then the public has a right to know who is backing it. This is about the future of our country.” – Telegraph

  • My encounter with George Soros’s bright-eyed missionaries left me deeply disturbed – Frank Furedi for the Telegraph (£)
  • Chuka’s arrogant leadership plan infuriated Remain rivals – Guido Fawkes

Foreign staff stick to NHS despite Brexit fears…

Fears that foreign doctors and nurses would desert the NHS as Brexit approaches have been eased by figures showing little change in the number of EU-born staff since 2016. The figures, compiled by the House of Commons library, revealed the diverse nature of the health service, with 202 different nationalities represented. While 87.5 per cent of NHS staff in England are British, 5.6 per cent are nationals of other EU countries, 4.2 per cent are Asian, and 1.9 per cent are African… The report found that 10 per cent of doctors and 7 per cent of nurses were EU nationals, with little overall change since the EU referendum. – The Times (£)

…as Andrea Leadsom backs ‘level playing field’ for post-Brexit immigration

EU migrants should not be given preferential access to Britain after Brexit in order to give all people “equal chance” to come to the UK, according to leading Brexiteer Andrea Leadsom. The Leader of the House of Commons told Sky News she wanted to see a “level playing field” between those from the EU and the rest of the world once the UK leaves the EU… The Tory minister’s remarks follow a report in The Times newspaper that Theresa May’s top Brexit adviser, senior civil servant Olly Robbins, proposed two post-Brexit immigration systems at this week’s meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee. It has been claimed the system offering no preferential treatment for EU migrants found favour with ministers. – Sky News

Michael Gove wins fight for Britain to block EU demand that Brussels sets fishing quotas during Brexit transition…

Britain is to refuse a new EU demand that Brussels must set fishing quotas for us during the two year Brexit transition period. Environment Secretary Michael Gove has won a Cabinet fight to block the new order issued by EU chiefs this week, The Sun can reveal… In the new stand off over fishing quotas, Brussels has insisted it only needs to ‘consult’ the UK on what fishermen can catch in our waters between 2019 and 2021. The EU insists London must be stripped of a decision making role as Britain would have left the EU by then. But Mr Gove will instead now demand the UK must either be able to set parameters of what fishing stocks we will allow to be caught, or be a third party in the room during quota talks. – The Sun

…as Treasury forecasts claim fishermen would do better out of every possible Brexit scenario

The Treasury’s secret Brexit analysis shows UK fishermen will be better off under every Brexit scenario – proving another Remain campaign pledge wrong. During the referendum David Cameron told British fishermen they were “better off from within” the Common Fisheries Policy, which limits the amount of fish they can catch in UK waters. But the sensitive Treasury document that forecasted the economic effect of three Brexit models – leaked to Buzzfeed last month – said Britain’s fishing industry will be better off under every possibility. Crashing out of the EU without a deal would leave Britain trading with Brussels on World Trade Organisation terms – freeing UK fishermen from restrictive EU fishing quotas. Under a Free Trade Agreement with the EU the Treasury also reckons fishermen would be better off. – The Sun

Japanese ambassador warns over “high stakes” Brexit deal

Japan’s ambassador to the UK has said Brexit is a high stakes issue and that no company would be able to stay in the UK if it was not profitable. Koji Tsuruoka was speaking outside Number 10 after a meeting between Prime Minister Theresa May and 19 top Japanese bosses. Mrs May had told the business leaders that Brexit would allow the UK to strike a free trade deal with Japan… He was asked about the threat to Japanese companies if the UK did not secure a frictionless trade deal with the EU after Brexit. “This is all high stakes that all of us, I think, need to keep in mind,” he answered. Pro-Brexit businessman John Mills, said: “Clearly companies have to make a profit. “But there’s no reason they shouldn’t make a profit with a WTO [World Trade Organisation] deal,” added Mr Mills, who is chairman of consumer products firm, JML. – BBC News

  • Japan issues stark warning on trade deal after No 10 meeting – Telegraph

Nigeria could be key Brexit trade ally, says Commonwealth business chief

Britain must embrace free trade with Nigeria after Brexit as its rapidly growing population “loves British products” and wants to buy “everything” from UK exporters, a Commonwealth business leader has said. Lord Marland, the chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC), said it was time for the UK to set up a post-Brexit trading zone, with Nigeria, Singapore and Malaysia offering major opportunities. “The UK doesn’t want to be seen to be initiating anything but actually people look to the UK for leadership. If the UK wants to initiate something, which is a starting block for a commonwealth trade zone, it will start,” Lord Marland told the Telegraph. – Telegraph (£)

Gerard Lyons: With flexibility and competitiveness, the City can prosper after Brexit

For the City the key is where the clients will want to do business and thus where the markets will be – and what the regulators will decide. There are many niche financial centres in Europe but they are unable to provide the depth of the market that exists in London or match its infrastructure. In fact many of the City’s of strengths are deeply embedded and largely Brexit-proof. That is, they will not be affected by the UK-EU negotiations. These include: the English language; the importance of contracts; the independence of institutions; and the use of English common law across the globe. To this can be added London’s appeal as a place where people want to live, study and work. In the wake of the financial crisis, regulation took centre stage. Ahead of the crisis, the regulatory pendulum was at one extreme, too light. Now the regulatory pendulum may have swung to the other extreme. And like any pendulum it needs to settle somewhere in the middle, supporting growth while ensuring financial stability. – Gerard Lyons for CapX

Fraser Nelson: George Soros is a champion of democracy, but on Brexit he is backing the wrong side

So yes, Soros has been interfering in politics for decades. But for quite a clear purpose: to help as many people as possible enjoy the liberty he experienced in the West… This explains his muddle over Brexit. Soros has been an avid supporter of the EU since its inception, seeing it as the surest way of helping post-Soviet countries. This made perfect sense after the Berlin Wall came down, even more so when the eastern bloc countries joined the EU at the turn of the century. But as the EU steadily mutated, things changed. Brussels began to act as a would-be continental government, issuing diktats and being unresponsive to the changing popular concerns. Its inability to respond to the twin challenges of the past decade – the financial crash and mass immigration – created a crisis, and the conditions for a populist backlash. – Fraser Nelson for the Telegraph (£)

  • Remain has billionaire George Soros, but it just makes them more hypocritical with their propaganda campaign that only amounts to a tantrum – The Sun says

Anthony Browne: 15 reasons why we can be cheerful about ‘taking back control’ after Brexit

“But what are you going to do with the powers?” the ­minister asked, while I negotiated devolution of powers to ­London when Boris Johnson was mayor. The Government would not grant ­powers unless we explained how we would use them. And that is what is missing in the Brexit non-debate. We are “taking back control” — but we haven’t really thought about what we will do with that control once we have it. It is true there has been discussion of trade deals, transforming the Common Agricultural Policy and the colour of our passports. But if that was all we could do, even most Brexiteers wouldn’t have ­considered it worth it. So, what could we do once we Brexit? Well actually, given how extensive EU law is, an awful lot… – Anthony Browne for The Sun

Lee Rotherham: Brexiteers are right to fight to get Britain out of the EU’s customs union. Here’s why

Steve Baker’s comments, or rather his cautious and caveated response to a thoughtful and fair question by Jacob Rees-Mogg, has provoked a peculiar faux furore. Orthodox Arch-Remainers have anathematised the minister for supposedly impugning the integrity of civil servants. Yet consider, as Cadfael might, the timeline. Some extremely senior Treasury officials had clearly taken it upon themselves to craft a report that fitted their political agenda, and then deliberately sat on it. The existence of this IED, already by then primed, was incidentally revealed in an obscure panel discussion back in last October; the Prime Minister only found out about the text in late January, and the Department actually negotiating Brexit itself only saw it the following week. By any interpretation, such a conspiracy to hijack not just policy but also public opinion is quite remarkable. It is almost as if some British civil servants think they are the European Commission. The issue of the Customs Union runs to the very core of the Brexit negotiations. – Lee Rotherham for the Telegraph (£)

Tom McTague & David M. Herszenhorn: Brexit cherry-picking is inevitable — but it will cost

The European single market’s golden (if patchy) four freedoms of people, capital, services and goods are indivisible. “À la carte” access, as EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is fond of putting it, isn’t an option. Except, that’s not really the case — it just depends how you define the cherries. In Whitehall the talk of cherry-picking is met with a roll of the eyes. “We’ve conceded the point,” said one U.K. official. “That’s why we’re leaving the single market.”… One EU27 diplomat who spoke to Politico on condition of anonymity agreed that the cherry-picking rhetoric was past its sell-by date. “It is not helpful,” the official said. “Every single free trade agreement involves cherry-picking. That is what they are.” …For the EU, whatever price they set on Britain’s post-Brexit access is problematic because it inevitably comes with costs attached in return, which will not be shared out equally among the 27, some of which have highly integrated economies with the U.K. while others do not. – Tom McTague and David M. Herszenhorn for Politico

Kristian Niemietz: Remainers think Brexit will see Americans take over the NHS. That’s utter nonsense

We have a healthcare system that crowds out private provision to a much greater extent than most other health systems do. As a result, the size and scope of the private healthcare market is very limited in the UK. This is a domestic political choice. It is unrelated to our trade arrangements. In fact, as an EU/EEA member, we already have free trade with countries where healthcare provision is predominantly private, such as the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. Yet this has clearly not led to Dutch, German and Swiss companies taking over the NHS. Why should a trade deal with the US be any different? …Healthcare in the UK is not exactly a cash cow. Most NHS trusts are in deficit, and so are many private providers that rely on NHS contracts. Most US investors will probably not touch this market with a bargepole. – Kristian Niemietz for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit comment in brief

  • Asia is as key to Britain’s future success as Europe – Rachel Cunliffe for Reaction
  • Could it be that Brussels wants to inflict mayhem? – Leo McKinstry for the Express
  • It’s time for Anna Soubry to go – Olivia Utley for Reaction
  • Germany’s new coalition comes with risks for Europe – and Brexit – Alan Posener for the Guardian
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg has become the perfect politician for our confused times – Nesrine Malik for the Guardian
  • Foolish Ways the EU Wastes British Taxpayers’ Money’ – Get Britain Out’s Robert Bates for The Conservative
  • The elite is selling out Brexit – Gerald Warner for Reaction
  • The Customs Union: A Stark Betrayal of Brexit – Get Britain Out’s Daniel Huggins for CommentCentral
  • It’s time to give businesses real answers to Brexit fears – Stephen Martin for the Telegraph (£)
  • The having cake and eating it Brexit fantasy is over. Time to recognise reality over our future trade with the EU – Jeremy Warner for the Telegraph (£)
  • Mogg-Johnsons will betray their Brexit fans – Philip Collins for The Times (£)

Brexit news in brief

  • Bank of England raises growth forecasts – Guido Fawkes
  • Pound jumps as Bank of England paves the way for May rate rise to combat inflation – Telegraph (£)
  • EU finance official: UK will have to survive as third country – Politico