EU demands fishing rights in British waters as price for all-UK Brexit backstop: Brexit News for Friday 9th November

EU demands fishing rights in British waters as price for all-UK Brexit backstop: Brexit News for Friday 9th November

EU demands fishing rights in British waters as price for all-UK Brexit backstop…

European Union fishing fleets must be given wide-ranging access to British coastal waters as the price of agreeing an all-UK Brexit divorce deal, the Telegraph can reveal. Senior EU diplomats have warned that any plan to grant the UK a temporary customs union to solve the Irish backstop problem must come with cast-iron guarantees that EU boats will be free to fish in UK waters. The EU demands threaten to re-open a fierce row inside the Tory party over the potential size of the Brexit dividend for coastal and fishing communities. Fishermen warned Mrs May that she must not “squander” the chance to claw back valuable quotas for British fleets, while MPs representing fishing communities said extending the current arrangements would be “totally unacceptable”. – Telegraph (£)

…as Brussels seeks to use the Irish border issue to tie the UK into a permanent post-Brexit customs union…

Brussels will look to use a UK-wide fudge on the Irish border to tie Britain into a permanent customs union after Brexit, The Sun can reveal. European capitals believe there must be a clear “link” between what is agreed for the backstop solution and the terms of the future trade deal. They say the UK must accept a “level playing field” binding it to follow key EU laws, as well as granting fishing rights, as part of a border compromise. Member States believe legal constraints and the effort required to patch together a customs union at such short notice mean it should be long-lasting. A senior diplomatic source told The Sun: “Whatever we do UK-wide there has to be a link with what will be the future relationship. You can’t say we do a customs union for two to three years and then they have an escape clause and can simply terminate it.” – The Sun

…while a leaked letter suggests the EU no-deal plan ‘will include a new border in Irish Sea’

A Brussels plan to put a customs border in the Irish Sea if there is no Brexit agreement will be included in a divorce deal, a leaked letter from Theresa May suggests. The prime minister was accused last night of breaking her promise to the Democratic Unionist Party that she would never sign up to a deal that could allow Northern Ireland to be divided from the rest of the United Kingdom. The European plan, known as the “backstop to the backstop”, would leave Northern Ireland tied to the single market and customs union if Brexit talks collapse. Brussels wants this insurance policy to avoid a hard border in Ireland. Mrs May has previously said that no UK prime minister could ever agree to such a plan. The five-page letter, leaked to The Times, was sent on Tuesday from Mrs May to Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, and Nigel Dodds, her deputy. In it, the prime minister says that the EU is still pushing for the “backstop to the backstop” but insists that she would never allow a divide between Ulster and Great Britain to “come into force”. – The Times (£)

  • Leaked letter reveals EU concession by May as she abandons Northern Ireland – Express
  • May warns DUP of customs border in Irish sea in case of no deal, leaked letter suggests – Independent

…which leads to DUP accusation of ‘total betrayal’

A senior DUP MP has accused Theresa May of a “total betrayal” amid suggestions a plan for a customs border down the Irish Sea could yet be included in a Brexit divorce deal. East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson attacked the prime minister following the emergence of leaked letter from Mrs May to DUP leader Arlene Foster and her deputy Nigel Dodds. In extracts published by The Times, the prime minister’s letter refers to EU demands for the proposed Brexit backstop arrangement to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. This would apply if a future EU-UK trade relationship failed to avert a hardening of the frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The prime minister has been pushing to agree a UK-wide backstop arrangement, which would see the whole UK remain in an effective customs union with the EU, after rejecting Brussels’ proposal of a Northern Ireland-only solution. – Sky News

Brexit deal set to be done within a week, claims Donald Tusk as Theresa May flies to Brussels for talks…

Britain and Europe could have a Brexit deal within a week, one of the EU’s most powerful leaders said tonight. European Council president Donald Tusk predicted the two sides needed “maybe seven days” to reach an agreement in a huge boost for Theresa May. It comes as the PM flies to Brussels tonight, to plead with EU bosses to give her enough time to win round her Cabinet. After a series of phone calls earlier this week, the PM will now hold face-to-face talks with Nato members this evening [Thursday]. She is then expected to gather the Cabinet on Monday or Tuesday to get their blessing for the Brexit deal. Asked if the deal could be done in a week, Mr Tusk told Channel 4 News: “I hope so – but still we need maybe five, maybe six, maybe seven days.” – The Sun

  • Theresa May to cajole ministers to get behind Brexit deal – FT (£)

…with Theresa May wanting Cabinet agreement on a deal next week…

Theresa May is hoping to call her cabinet together to approve a draft Brexit deal with the EU on Monday, it emerged today. Under a draft timetable being discussed in Whitehall the prime minister would then publish the full EU withdrawal agreement the next day ahead of a special of summit of EU leaders the following week to sign off on the deal. At the same time the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, will travel to Brussels to seal the deal with his counterpart, Michel Barnier. The plan, which is dependent on an acceptable agreement being reached by British and European negotiators in Brussels, came as Mr Raab was criticised for admitting he “hadn’t quite understood” the importance of cross-Channel trade to the British economy. Speaking at an event for tech firms Mr Raab also warned shoppers to expect less choice of goods if leaving the EU disrupted trade routes from France. – The Times (£)

…although Ministers play down reports suggesting it could be done on Monday

British and Irish ministers have been playing down the prospect of a withdrawal deal being agreed over the next few days, although reports suggest it could be finalised as soon as next Monday. Jeremy Hunt told reporters this morning that while he was “confident” of a deal over the coming weeks, it would be “pushing it” to expect it to be done over the next seven days.”I would urge caution that an imminent breakthrough is not necessarily to be taken for granted, not by a long shot,” Simon Coveney told a conference.  However, reports in the Austrian press citing European Commission sources suggest that a deal could be ready as early as next week. The Der Standard newspaper reports that the deal could be ready next Monday, with the UK cabinet able to sign it off the following day, and European leaders meeting to approve it at a special summit on 25 November. The compromise Mrs May could reportedly have to make to get around the final major hurdle posed by the Irish border is to allow the entire United Kingdom to stay in the customs union under the backstop for at least another year, after the transition period ends in December 2020. – Telegraph (£)

  • Brexit deal no closer as Dublin urges caution – Politico

Tory Brexiteers planning to reject deal even with backstop exit clause

Eurosceptic Conservative MPs will still vote down the government’s Brexit deal even if Theresa May negotiates an exit clause from the Irish backstop, the former minister Steve Baker has insisted. May’s cabinet has been locked in a bitter internal wrangle about whether, and how, the government could extricate itself from the backstop, with some ministers concerned her plans could leave the UK in a permanent limbo. The prime minister hopes to win the backing of her ministers for a draft withdrawal agreement at a special cabinet meeting likely to take place early next week. But Baker, a leading figure in the backbench European Research Group (ERG), said Conservative MPs would be closely scrutinising the accompanying political declaration setting out the framework for the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU27. – Guardian

Crucial legal advice on Brexit should not be made public, says Health Secretary

Crucial legal advice on Brexit and the Northern Irish border should not be made public, the Health Secretary has said. Responding to calls for Theresa May to disclose the advice being drawn up by the Attorney General on the Irish backstop, Matt Hancock said this would not be “the normal approach. We’ve got a brilliant Attorney General, who sets out the legal position,” Mr Hancock told ITV News’ Peston. “He can answer questions in the Commons, but it’s not normal to publish the legal advice. That’s a decision in exceptional circumstances for the Prime Minister.” Pressure has been mounting on Mrs May to release the advice by Sir Geoffrey Cox both in full to her Cabinet, and to the public. The Prime Minister had hoped to hold a Cabinet meeting by the end of this week, but Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, is understood to have told the Prime Minister he will refuse to sign up to her proposed deal if she does not let him see Mr Cox’s advice. – Telegraph (£)

Tensions run high between Dominic Raab and David Lidington over handling of Irish Government

Theresa May’s Cabinet was plunged into fresh turmoil after pals of the Brexit Secretary launched an astonishing attack on the Prime Minister’s right hand man. Dominic Raab feels Cabinet Office boss David Lidington is “going behind his back” when dealing with the Irish government, allies say. Mr Lidington has been tasked with “hand holding” the Irish boss Leo Varadkar and Foreign Minister Simon Coveney through the final phases of negotiations, but Brexiteers believe he is using the role to push a softer agenda than the Exit Secretary. They point to a change in tone from the Dublin for Britain being able to stay in a customs union as part of the controversial “backstop” plan. The Sun understands tensions came to a head last week when Mr Lidington travelled to Dublin for meetings, while Mr Raab was dispatched to Northern Ireland. At the time Downing Street stressed the excellent relations Mr Lidington had with the Irish bosses, who he is said to be in constant contact with via text message. – The Sun

Brussels brands UK the ‘sick man of Europe’ as they predict we will have the ‘slowest growth in the EU until 2020’

Brussels has branded Britain the sick man of Europe after saying we will suffer the slowest growth in the EU over the next two years. Eurocrats predicted economic expansion will stall and unemployment rise, blaming “uncertainty” caused by Brexit. They said growth will crawl to just 1.2% in both 2019 and 2020, meaning the UK is set to perform even worse than struggling Italy. But the Commission admitted their figures are based on a “purely technical assumption” given the uncertain outcome of the Brexit talks. The new numbers were revealed in a two-year economic forecast published by the EU Commission yesterday. EU finance chief Pierre Moscovici said: “Heightened uncertainty means that business investment growth is likely to remain constrained. Employment growth is expected to slow significantly, leading to a modest rise in unemployment.” But Tory MEP David Campbell Bannerman said the “deal dividend” from Brexit would “power the economy” ahead of the rest of the EU. He added: “The EU might crow about better growth figures today. But they too easily forget EU and Eurozone in particular has been in recession for so many years.” – The Sun

  • Britain worse than Italy for growth, says Brussels The Times (£)

European centre-right nominate Manfred Weber as candidate for Commission President

The European People’s Party on Thursday chose Manfred Weber as its nominee for Commission president over former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb. Weber, the German leader of the EPP grouping in the European Parliament, will be the center-right party’s Spitzenkandidat or “lead candidate” in the European Parliament election to be held in May. The grouping — which is the largest in the Parliament — aims to retain control of the EU’s top post, currently held by Jean-Claude Juncker. Weber, who is little known outside of Brussels and his home region of Bavaria, was endorsed by all of the EPP’s current heads of state and government and most of its national member parties. Still, he faced a remarkably strong challenge from Stubb, who ran a spirited campaign given the weight of establishment forces lined up against him. – Politico

  • German Manfred Weber secures EPP backing for Commission top job – euronews

EU under threat from ‘a Farage in every country’, warns Michel Barnier

Michel Barnier has declared that the EU is under threat from a Nigel Farage in every member country and warned that the European Project faces destruction at the hands of populist forces in elections next year. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said that next year’s European Parliament elections would be a battle between nationalist and pro-EU parties for the soul of the bloc. Speaking in Helsinki, Finland, Mr Barnier said on Thursday, “This election will be tougher than ever before. We will have to fight against those who want to demolish Europe. With their fear. Their populist deceit. And their attacks against the European Project. “There is now a Farage in every country,” he said in a swipe at the former Ukip leader who helped bring about the Brexit referendum. – Telegraph (£)

  • Every EU country now has ‘a Nigel Farage’, Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says – Independent

Dyson wins EU battle over energy efficiency laws

Dyson has won a battle with the European courts over energy labelling laws after the General Court upheld its argument that efficiency tests carried out on empty vacuum cleaners do not reflect real-life use. The ruling annuls the regulation on the energy labelling of vacuum cleaners but the label will remain in force for a minimum of two months and ten days to allow time for appeal. Dyson said that the ruling was “welcome news and a win for consumers across Europe”. All vacuum cleaners sold in the EU have been subject to energy labelling requirements since September 2014, aimed at informing consumers about their efficiency based on testing that takes place when the machine is empty of dust. But Dyson, best known for its bagless vacuum cleaner, has long argued that models using bags and filters to separate dust from the airflow can become clogged, often leading to loss of suction and meaning that a consumer could buy an A-rated machine that drops to G-grade efficiency as it is used in the home. – The Times (£)

  • Dyson welcomes EU court battle victory that defeats ‘anti-competitive’ vacuum cleaner regulation – City A.M.

> Matt Ridley on BrexitCentral today: Dyson’s five-year legal battle reveals the crony capitalist corruption at the heart of the EU

David Campbell-Bannerman: Here’s how we can bin the backstop and finally have a big Brexit breakthrough

We have an impasse on the backstop. We seem all to be impaled on a backstop hook that we are unable to escape, with the clock ticking down and the prospect of a no deal staring at us ever closer in the rearview mirror. So what could solve the problem? When I was Special Adviser to the Northern Ireland Secretary of State Patrick Mayhew during the start of the Peace Process in 1996 to 1997, I learnt much about the importance of language and creativity, especially in such a sensitive context as Northern Ireland with its linguistic minefields – even use of descriptors such as Derry or Londonderry. I also later suggested a means of decommissioning (putting ‘beyond use’) terrorist weapons by the former terrorist groups destroying their own weapons in front of independent witnesses, which later was adopted. Decommissioning was the hook the Peace Process became impaled on then. – David Campbell-Bannerman MEP for the Telegraph (£)

Fraser Nelson: Theresa May has a new plan to sell her just-about Brexit, and she’s confident horrified Tories will swallow it

Theresa May was brutally teased for saying that “Brexit means Brexit” but it was always pretty clear what she had in mind. Leaving the European Union, she said, meant no longer being beholden to its courts or its edicts. We’d be taking back control of our laws and regulations while striking new alliances around the world. The Prime Minister spelt it all out six months after moving into No 10: no to the Customs Union, no to the Single Market and no to the European Court of Justice. A bold, clean Brexit. How far away that seems now. In the next few days, she will start to talk about her new plan, with a new definition of what Brexit actually means. It seems to involve keeping rather a lot of those Brussels regulations and, unlike EU membership itself, it would be incredibly hard for Britain to get out of. Much of her party is aghast, with dozens of Tory MPs signing a “Stand up for Brexit” pledge and threatening to vote against anything that falls short of her original idea. Yet she is confident of getting her deal through parliament next month, and past her Cabinet in the next few days. All it takes, she thinks, is the right argument. – Fraser Nelson for the Telegraph (£)

Iain Martin: Nato, not an EU army, will keep Europe safe

The British and the French have at times struggled to accept the notion that few nations on earth are a better fit as allies. The Channel is only 21 miles wide at its narrowest point, but the gulf in understanding can be wider. Distrust comes easily between two nations that fought each other for centuries and then forged a partnership ahead of the First World War. A nativist hardline Eurosceptic will still say bombastically that centuries of experience show that you simply cannot trust the frogs. That is nonsense. Both sides sacrificed a lot in 1914-18, but France suffered the greater number of casualties, which explains, incidentally, why the main commemorations for the centenary of the Armistice are rooted on its soil. On the other side of the Channel, the British, or certainly the English, are sometimes regarded as perfidious shysters too keen to point out that they stood out against the Nazis while France folded in 1940. – Iain Martin for The Times (£)

Robert Courts: Here’s how to solve Brexit legal advice row. But let’s not forget about the big political questions

It is important to remember that we are not engaged in a purely legal exercise. Whether Parliament approves a deal, including any backstop to keep Britain in a customs union of any kind, for any time period, for any reason, is a political question for MPs, not a legal one for lawyers. And it is clear that any suggestion that Britain might be stuck in a long-term customs union, with no clear and independent exit route, thereby surrendering control over our trade policy to the EU, is one that would run into significant difficulties with a vast swathe of moderate Conservative MPs, whether they backed remain or leave. – Robert Courts MP for the Telegraph (£)

Chopper’s Brexit Podcast: David Davis says a no-deal Brexit is ‘not intimidating or frightening’

Leaving the European Union without a deal in March doesn’t scare former Brexit Secretary, David Davis. He tells Christopher Hope on this week’s Chopper’s Brexit Podcast, “I don’t find ‘no deal’ intimidating at all – it is not the best outcome but I don’t find it frightening. But the Government and the European Union do.” He admits “there will be a bumpy first year” after a no-deal Brexit but the UK will be able to keep the £39 billion ‘Brexit bill’, adding: “That’s a lot of hospitals and schools.” On the Brexit talks, Mr Davis says MPs should be given the full legal advice on Theresa May’s Brexit deal because it is “fundamental” to understanding the final deal. Also on this week’s podcast Kit Malthouse, the Housing minister, Professor Chris Hanretty from Royal Holloway University, Damian Lyons Lowe and Dr Isabel Taylor from polling agency, Survation – plus The Telegraph’s Political Editor Gordon Rayner tells the podcast what the hell is going on in the fast-moving world of Brexit. – Christopher Hope for the Telegraph (£)

Ed Conway: Brexit has plenty of unexpected bonuses

Why does Brexit make so many people so cross? The more you think about it, the odder it is. Leaving the EU is not Iraq or Vietnam. Nobody will be killed by Brexit, except perhaps those who are bored to death by it. For all the adjectives you could use to describe Brexit — confounding, frustrating, momentous and historic — it is, above all, desperately boring. I’m talking not just about the endless soap opera of negotiations, though that’s up there with the collected works of Thomas Hardy in the boredom stakes. Brexit is boring because it turns out the European Union itself is mostly boring. Consider the powers that will be returned to Westminster after we finally leave: to negotiate trade deals with other countries; to impose tariffs; to introduce new regulations on employment and product standards; to set quotas for migration and visas. For the past four decades the EU has functioned in large part as a legislative black hole into which we have outsourced some of the more tedious levers of the state. – Ed Conway for The Times (£)

Eamonn Ives: No, Brexit will not threaten all creatures great and small

In case you hadn’t yet noticed, the United Kingdom is currently negotiating its leaving of the European Union. Whilst we do not know exactly where the country will end up after the 29th March next year, it is almost certain that Westminster will have the opportunity to legislate on policy issues which for decades it has offshored to Brussels. Nowhere is this more apparent than with respect to environmental law – of which roughly four-fifths stem from the EU. This has, reasonably enough, put the proverbial cat amongst the metaphorical pigeons of the environmental lobby. Notwithstanding the fact that just about all of them lament Brexit, it is unsurprising that they regard the country’s vote to leave as a threat to existing standards. When anything could happen, expecting the worst might be an instinctive response. One area in particular which has attracted a considerable amount of attention is that of animal welfare regulation. – Eamonn Ives for ConservativeHome

Brexit in Brief

  • No. 10’s Brexit legal advice should be published, but it won’t make politicians any less confused – Telegraph editorial
  • Is Macron’s Euro crusade doomed to fail? – John Lichfield for UnHerd
  • Groundhog day propaganda – John Redwood’s Diary
  • As Brussels plots to lock the UK in its strangling grip forever — will the Tories stand and fight for Brexit? – The Sun says
  • Top Eurocrat Michel Barnier is snubbed by fellow leaders at grand EU conference as they totally ignore him while he delivers speech – The Sun
  • Emmanuel Macron’s ‘inefficient’ EU Army plans mocked by rivals – Express
  • Prince Andrew says a royal yacht Britannia can be a ‘tool in the bag’ to help British businesses – Telegraph (£)
  • Ireland demands ‘level playing field’ in any Brexit deal – The Times (£)
  • Crucial legislation will be put before MPs just days before Britain leaves EU, ministers admit – Independent
  • No deal Brexit would cause ‘hiccups in first year’, says David Davis – i News