Brexit rebel claims Hammond wants to remain in Customs Union: Brexit News for Saturday 6 January

Brexit rebel claims Hammond wants to remain in Customs Union: Brexit News for Saturday 6 January
Sign up here to receive the daily news briefing in your inbox every morning with exclusive insight from the BrexitCentral team

Nicky Morgan claims Philip Hammond is stoking confusion over Customs Union…

Philip Hammond has been accused of stoking confusion over whether Britain will stay in a customs union with the EU after Brexit. The Chancellor turned down the chance to rule out such an end state in a letter sent in December but this news has only just been revealed by a senior Conservative colleague. Nicky Morgan, who backed Remain in the EU referendum and chairs the influential Treasury select committee, asked Mr Hammond to “explicitly rule out” a customs union deal with Brussels. But he only pointed out that Britain will leave the current customs union, adding Britain would “need to seek a new customs arrangement”. – Sky News

  • Hammond ‘refuses to rule out’ customs union with EU after Brexit – Guardian
  • Philip Hammond broaches customs union deal with EU – FT (£)
  • Philip Hammond risks new Cabinet rift – Evening Standard

…as May clears way for copycat customs union with Europe…

Theresa May will give herself powers to create a near-identical customs union with the EU after Brexit under legislation to be considered next week. The future customs relationship with the EU could be one of the biggest political issues this year as Labour edges closer to pledging to stay in a union with the EU even if it stops Britain striking independent trade deals. Mrs May has given herself maximum room for manoeuvre in a trade bill that will be debated in the Commons on Monday and Tuesday, in a move that could cause jitters among Brexit supporters. Clause 31 of the bill allows the government to establish “a customs union between the UK and the country or territory”. – The Times (£)

  • May urged to stay in single market by 20 British MEPsGuardian

…and Labour shadow minister quits over UK leaving Customs Union

A Labour frontbencher has resigned after defying his party over keeping Britain in the customs union after Brexit. In a sign of continuing tensions over Labour’s position on Europe, Alex Cunningham has stepped down from his role as shadow pensions minister after rebelling against orders to abstain on a crunch Commons vote on the future relationship with the EU. Mr Cunningham was among 62 Labour MPs to back an amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill tabled by former minister Chris Leslie in December, which called for Britain to remain in the customs union when it leaves the bloc. – Independent

London crowned Europe’s top tech investment city

London beat every other EU city to be crowned tech investment champion of 2017 despite the move to Brexit. The capital had more technology money pour in than the rest of the top ten combined, including Paris, Dublin and Berlin. Despite dire referendum warnings that they would leave, tech firms in London attracted £2.45billion in venture capital funding in 2017. This was almost 80 per cent of the £2.99billion invested in Britain as a whole, according to funding database PitchBook. British firms had almost four times the funding of German rivals. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called it “further proof London is the undisputed tech capital of Europe and I am committed to ensuring we take over from Silicon Valley as the world’s leading tech hub”. – The Sun

FTSE 100 closes at a record high… again

After its record close yesterday, the FTSE 100 finished the week on another record high, despite discouraging US jobs figures. The index smashed through the 7,700 figure for only the second time this morning, peaking at 7,727 points in lunchtime trading, and closed at 7,724 points, 0.4 per cent higher than yesterday’s record close. It was carried higher by utilities giants Centrica and United Utilities which rose 3.1 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively. – City A.M.

Macron tells Erdogan: No chance of Turkey joining EU

French President Emmanuel Macron has told his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that there is no chance of progress towards Turkey joining the European Union at present. At a joint news conference in Paris, Mr Macron said there were differences over human rights since Turkey’s purges following a failed coup in 2016. Mr Erdogan said Turkey was tired of constantly imploring to join the EU. He lashed out at a journalist who asked about claims Turkey sent arms to Syria. – BBC

Lord Owen: Brexit is a positive story

Former British Foreign Secretary Lord David Owen says there is a “positive story” on Brexit and that there is a great deal of “courage and enterprise” in Britain’s young people. He believed Britain would become a major contributor to Nato once it left the European Union. – BBC

> Watch on BrexitCentral’s Youtube Channel: Lord Owen says Remainers can’t accept defeat

Blair uses NHS crisis to fuel Brexit fears

Investigations by Ross Clark for The Daily Mail and Mark Tinsley for BrexitCentral have found that, while the number of EU nurses being registered by the Nursing and Midwifery Council has fallen, the number of EU staffers in the NHS is still rising overall, and currently stands at an all-time high. Indeed, the idea that Britain’s pending departure from the European Union is discouraging EU citizens from applying for work appears to be contradicted, with Tinsely pointing out that the stats for nurses in particular “vary considerably by nationality”. He notes that while Spanish nurses are down 518 and Portuguese nurses down 228, Romania, Polish, and Greek nurses are up 248, 120, and 57, respectively. – Breitbart

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

Philip Collins: Why a second referendum is a lost cause

Situation Vacant. Advocate for perhaps 48 per cent of the nation, probably a few less now but possibly more in time. Job currently being done, for want of anyone better, by the former prime minister Tony Blair with occasional help from the former deputy prime minister Sir Nick Clegg and  the recently departed chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, Lord Adonis. The case for not leaving the European Union now seeks a less  established figure to lead this urgent campaign. There is, in fact, one  obvious candidate, though it is not clear if he is available. – Philip Collins for The Times (£)

Charles Moore: Tories can be green, but Michael Gove must avoid being captured by the environmentalist blob

The independent British agricultural policy that Mr Gove is cogitating will favour technological change (the “hands-free” farm, gene editing), rather than chugging on with the same old methods. Instead of handing out just for land owned, it will pay “public money for public goods” – tree-planting, improved water quality, access, anti-Leninist wildflower meadows. He seeks to show that post-Brexit Britain can win the race to the quality top, not to the cheapskate bottom. The intellectual underpinning for the Gove approach comes from Sir Roger Scruton, the conservative thinker. – Charles Moore for the Telegraph (£)

Asa Bennett: If the best anti-Brexiteers can offer is Tony Blair, Remain is finished

To paraphrase Tony Blair, a new year has dawned has it not? Mr Blair welcomed it in by reminding Britons that he still doesn’t approve of their decision to leave the European Union. The former prime minister urged voters repeatedly back in 2016 not to back Brexit, but they had the audacity to defy him. He doesn’t seem to have taken public rejection well, as he has popped up with clockwork regularity since the EU referendum to try and convince them he was right all along. – Asa Bennett  for the Telegraph (£)

> Kate Hoey MP on BrexitCentral yesterday: Tony Blair’s Dodgy Dossier on Brexit should be swiftly binned

Ashley Fox: In Brussels, the new year brings a continuation of familiar battles

We are reaching the business end of negotiations when Member States’ economic self-interest begins to run up against the Commission’s much-trumpeted united front. Britain is clear what it wants from the forthcoming talks – an implementation period during which the status quo is largely preserved followed by a comprehensive trade deal which, as David Davis spelled out last week, maintains as much as possible of the current economic co-operation with minimal new barriers. It should include goods, agriculture and services, including financial services. – Ashley Fox MEP for ConservativeHome

Peter Divey: No deal? No chance

The idea of a newly independent Scotland then rejoining the Federalist EU was rightly mocked, and the same needs to be said about the Tory Remainer rebels who used Parliamentary sovereignty as cloud cover for their revolt. The real motive is obvious. Weaken May, weaken Brexit and bolster the EU. Keep chipping away and the Brexit facade could yet crumble, and indeed there are now cracks in the mortar. – Peter Divey for CommentCentral

Brexit in brief

  • Gove would make a terrible prime minister but his achievements are superb – Matthew Parris for The Times (£)
  • The answer to success after Brexit? Taking up chess – Ilya Merenzon for City A.M.
  • I’m left wondering if Brexiteers will ever be satisfied – Andrew Grice for the Independent
  • Tory parasites will turn us into an EU colony – Andrew Cadman for ConservativeWoman
  • We can stop Brexit. But we’ll need some help from across the Channel – Timothy Garton Ash for the Guardian
  • The tech sector might be booming but Tory Brexit Britain is no success story – James Moore for the Independent
  • EU takes billion-euro battle to Russia – Politico
  • Ranting Pro-EU Labour peer Lord Adonis vows to ‘sabotage’ Brexit – The Sun
  • Milan moves to lure London asset managers after Brexit – FT (£)

And finally… David Aaronovitch claims Brexiteers are dying faster than Remainers

After Tony Blair’s call for a second referendum (and maybe even a third if that one didn’t work out) fell flat on Thursday, the campaign to stop Brexit looks on shaky ground. However, Newsnight have put forward an argument that could be just the thing to put life back in the campaign. In a film for the BBC current affairs programme, David Aaronovitch – who once said ‘if every one of the PM’s demands had been turned down I would still have been in favour of remaining in the European Union’ – appears to find a glimmer of hope: Brexit voters are dying at a faster rate than Remain voters! – Steerpike for The Spectator