Brexit News for Saturday 7 October

Brexit News for Saturday 7 October
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Whitehall reportedly outflanks Davis over Brexit talks

David Davis has been outflanked by Whitehall and has lost direct political control over the officials negotiating Brexit, it was claimed yesterday. The Brexit secretary last month asked for Oliver Robbins to be moved from his job as permanent secretary in the Department for Exiting the European Union, which he combined with his role as the prime minister’s chief Europe adviser. His request followed disagreements with Mr Robbins about the government’s approach to the talks and the decision to publish detailed position papers on its strategy..- The Times (£)

Germany rejects May’s Brexit transition hopes…

Germany and France have dashed British hopes of fast-tracking talks on a two-year post-Brexit transition deal, insisting that the UK’s EU divorce bill be resolved first. British officials had hoped that EU leaders would jump-start negotiations at a high-profile Brussels summit in two weeks by approving the opening of talks on a transition period after Britain’s exit in 2019, which Theresa May proposed in her Florence address last month. But according to European diplomats, a Germany-led group of EU countries has demanded more clarity on the long-term financial commitments Britain will honour. The UK insists it will only do this once the shape of its future relationship with the EU is clear, including a transition period.- FT (£)

  • Brexit ‘divorce bill’: EU diplomats pile pressure on Britain to give ground Evening Standard
  • Portugal’s foreign minister: No prospect of ‘sufficient progress’ in Brexit talks Politico
  • UK retaliates against EU’s refusal to talk trade – Express

…and ‘has been preparing for no deal for months’…

German officials have been preparing a contingency plan for months in case Brexit fails, according to sources. Angela Merkel’s government says that in recent months they have been spending just as much energy on how to handle a Brexit flop as preparing for a negotiated solution. The Federation of German Industry (BDI) warned German firms on Thursday that it would be “naive” not to be ready for a “a very hard exit”. This, the BDI said is because Theresa May’s government lacks a clear strategy on how to exit the European Union following last year’s referendum. – Express

…as EU steps up Brexit talks with Labour

EU negotiators have “significantly” stepped up back-room talks with Labour because they are increasingly concerned Theresa May’s government will collapse before Brexit is complete. Brussels is seeking assurances from Jeremy Corbyn that he will honour agreements reached with the Conservatives if he comes to power. Sources have told The Telegraph there has been “a significant change in tone” from Brussels towards Labour since the general election and meetings since then have been at a higher level and more frequent. –  Telegraph (£)

Migrant influx risks turning French port of Ouistreham turning into second Calais

Britain is to fund tighter security at Ouistreham port in Normandy after an influx of migrants fuelled concern that it could become a second Calais. The French Interior Ministry said the British authorities had been asked to contribute to the cost of improved security at the small Channel port and added that “an agreement is in the process of being concluded”. Officials refused to divulge the bill for British taxpayers but said the aim was to “prevent intrusions [into the port] in order to dissuade the migrants from attempting a clandestine journey to the UK”.- The Times (£)

French Ambassador: ‘President Macron has no desire for revenge — it all depends on the UK’

Mr Jouyet attended the Conservative Party conference but not Mrs May’s now infamously shambolic speech, although he judged its substance to be “well balanced”. He was in the hall to hear Boris Johnson in public for the first time, and was impressed. “It was a good speech, he’s a very good speaker,” he says. Previously he had only read Mr Johnson’s biography of Churchill, judging the foreign secretary to be a great talent. “He has an indisputable sense of humour and he’s very clever and as an ambassador I cannot tell you why he changed his views on Brexit,” Mr Jouyet says, learning the diplomacy game fast. – The Times (£)

Theresa May to reassure business leaders that Brexit is on track

The volatility in the Tory party comes ahead of Mrs May meeting business leaders on Monday to reassure them the Brexit process is on track. Chancellor Philip Hammond and Brexit Secretary David Davis will also meet Balfour Beatty, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, JCB, Vodafone, Aston Martin, Nestle and others in Downing Street. – Hearald

Green Party conference: Brexit and Grenfell Tower on agenda

The Green Party of England and Wales will debate issues ranging from climate change to staying in the EU single market, at its annual conference…The party’s co-leader Jonathan Bartley, who will give a speech on Monday, said the Greens would say “things others won’t” – including on Brexit. “When there is an establishment consensus on leaving the single market, we’ll say that’s incompatible with ending austerity,” he said. “We’re at a turning point – and we need to be asking big questions about our future.” Among topics being discussed at the conference are the Grenfell Tower disaster and council accountability and what Brexit means for the environment. – BBC

Syed Kamall: Why time pressure is cutting both ways in the Brexit talks

The EU sees time and continued uncertainty as its biggest allies. Brussels has dictated that the most difficult issues must be dealt with first and believes the UK’s need to talk about the future relationship will force it to make concessions. As the clock ticks down, so the theory goes, British businesses will become more and more concerned about the lack of certainty and heap pressure on ministers to agree whatever is necessary to move negotiations onto the future trading relationship. – Syed Kamall MEP for ConservativeHome

Charles Moore: Theresa May should sack one of her Cabinet big beasts – and it isn’t Boris Johnson

One cannot blame Remainers for maintaining their beliefs. Support for British membership of the EU is a legitimate position. But it is not right for people in the Government, or the Treasury, or the Bank of England, to try to frustrate what has been decided. “Yes we can!” was the winning slogan of Barack Obama. “No we can’t!” is what the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, proclaims with equal repetition, though markedly less charisma. He embodies defeatism. – Charles Moore for the Telegraph (£)

Laurence Dodds: Theresa May’s leadership crisis could destroy our Brexit deal. Here’s how

The clock is ticking. Theresa May is supposed to be meeting EU leaders next week to discuss Brexit. She will then have just two months until a second European summit in December, widely seen as the deadline for Britain to secure broad agreement on the shape of its EU deal or risk not getting one at all. So the crisis now engulfing her government comes at the worst possible time. It’s tempting to hope that this chaos in the Conservative Party will be limited to the Conservative Party. Isn’t this is just a Tory spat – an internecine Westminster squabble which will soon blow over without affecting the rest of the country? Sadly, it is not. – Laurence Dodds for the Telegraph (£)

Asa Bennett: Theresa May can survive a Remainer plot. If Brexiteers join in, it’ll be a different story

Brexiteers would have to decide if the resulting instability, and months spent on deciding a new leader, would improve – or jeopardise – Britain’s departure from the EU. It’s an easier sell for Remainers, as they can imagine forcing Mrs May out could see a more Brexitsceptic minister like Philip Hammond or Damian Green drafted in as her replacement. Mrs May might revel in Grant Shapps’ wriggling across the media this morning, but it is now out that a plot is afoot. If it’s only him and a band of disgruntled Cameronite Remainers out to get her, she can weather the storm. But if he is right that Brexiteers are part of his plot, and more Leavers start to join, she would have a real fight on her hands. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit comment in brief

  • Without a free trade vision, we may lose our Brexit opportunity – Graeme Leach for the Telegraph (£)
  • Economic exodus quickly chills Catalonia’s independence dream – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard for the Telegraph (£)
  • Britain looks buggered – Walter Ellis for Reaction
  • Injecting some balance into the EU talks – John Redwood’s Diary
  • What if Leave and Remain voters live in two different countries – Rosa Prince for Politico

Brexit news in brief

  • Britain’s services sector expanding at modest pace – Guardian
  • Migrant influx risks turning French port of Ouistreham turning into second Calais The Times (£)
  • Downing Street denies Theresa May has delayed China trip because Beijing snubbed her – The Sun
  • Juncker fires broadside at Britain by insisting Brexit ‘won’t change’ EU’s global statusExpress
  • Universities try to transcend BrexitFT (£)