Michel Barnier concedes that payment of £39 billion Brexit bill could guarantee a UK-EU trade deal: Brexit News for Saturday 8 September

Michel Barnier concedes that payment of £39 billion Brexit bill could guarantee a UK-EU trade deal: Brexit News for Saturday 8 September
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Michel Barnier concedes that payment of £39 billion Brexit bill could guarantee a UK-EU trade deal…

Britain will be more likely to secure a free trade agreement with the European Union if it pays the the £39 billion Brexit bill, Michel Barnier has signalled in a concession from Brussels that will bolster Theresa May’s efforts to get the deal through parliament. The European Commission has always insisted that the payment of the financial settlement, a central part of the withdrawal agreement, could not be made conditional on a trade deal. It argued that the payment would settle existing debts and that the future UK-EU agreement must be kept separate. – Telegraph (£)

  • Barnier crumbles as he signals first major EU concession to the UK – Express

…as it emerges that he did not describe Chequers as ‘dead’ to MPs last week

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier did not tell British MPs that the U.K.’s Brexit proposals were “dead,” contrary to a Labour MP’s recollection of a meeting in Brussels Monday. The claim — which is significant because it suggested that Theresa May’s strategy in the negotiations is already fatally undermined — emerged in questioning of Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab at a separate committee hearing in Westminster Wednesday. Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, who was present at the Barnier meeting, reported that the chief negotiator had said in French “les propositions sonts mortes [the proposals are dead].” But a transcript of the Brussels meeting published Friday does not record Barnier using those words, despite being asked three times by different MPs if the U.K.’s white paper was “dead.” Instead he adopted similar language to his previous statements on the unacceptability to the EU27 of the “facilitated customs arrangement” — under which the U.K. would collect import tariffs on the EU’s behalf — and the proposed “common rule book” for goods and agri-food. He did, however, praise parts of the U.K.’s plan. – Politico

Brexiteer MPs led by Jacob Rees-Mogg have hired a Dutch customs guru to solve the Irish border conundrum…

Hans Maessen, the ex-president of the Dutch customs association, is drawing up the alternative solution to the Prime Minister’s troubled Chequers blueprint. The border-expert has been secretly advising the Brexit hardline ERG group of MPs led by Jacob Rees Mogg. They who plan to declare an all-out assault on Theresa May’s plans for Britain to carry on collecting customs taxes on behalf of Brussels ahead of the Conservative Party conference next month. Hardcore Leavers want a trade deal with the EU like Canada after Brexit, but have so far failed to work out how that could avoid a hard border with the Irish republic. – The Sun

…as they shelve plans to publish a complete blueprint to rival Chequers…

Conservative Eurosceptics have abandoned their plan to publish an alternative Chequers blueprint. Tory members of the European Research Group had been due to put their names to a single document setting out their own proposals for a limited Brexit deal with the European Union. The plan was shelved amid divisions over strategy and fears among some MPs that it would provide ammunition for Downing Street and pro-European groups to attack their proposals. The group is instead planning a programme of events, starting with a speech on Wednesday by David Davis, the former Brexit secretary. – The Times (£)

…while Iain Duncan Smith maintains that Chequers will destroy Brexit

In a letter to two senior pro-Brussels MPs, former Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith dismissed proposals for Britain to temporarily stay in two European trade bodies while a full free-trade deal with Brussels is thrashed out over several years. “The British public would quickly recognise, that it doesn’t deliver their vote to leave,” Mr Duncan Smith wrote. He also feared the plan would leave the Government “unable to deliver the referendum vote, with all the dire political consequences for our party”. Mr Duncan Smith’s letter, written on behalf of the 60-strong European Research Group of Tory MPs, was sent to senior Tory backbenchers Nick Boles and George Freeman. – Express

Avoiding no deal must not lead to bad Brexit deal, says Nicola Sturgeon

The determination to avoid a no-deal Brexit should not lead the UK into accepting a bad-deal scenario, the first minister has said. Nicola Sturgeon said that leaving the EU with no deal would be catastrophic for businesses across Scotland and the rest of the UK. The Scottish government would continue to argue for a “commonsense” approach to Brexit, and remaining in the single market and customs union for the long term was the “least damaging economic solution”, she added. Ms Sturgeon was speaking at the CBI Scotland dinner in Glasgow where she said: “There’s no doubt at all that no deal would be disastrous, catastrophic for businesses across Scotland and the UK. – The Times (£)

UK is ‘trapped in a recurring cycle of silly behaviour’ on Brexit, says Ireland’s EU Commissioner

Britain is “trapped in a recurring cycle of silly behaviour” over Brexit and risks leaving the EU without an agreement on trade, one of the bloc’s top commissioners has warned. Phil Hogan lambasted the “absurdist politics” dominating Westminster and suggested that Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg might want to “shut up and let Prime Minister May get on with her work”. Speaking in County Wexford in Ireland, the member of the EU executive also warned: “If the UK attitude is Chequers and only Chequers, there will be no agreement before March next year on the future trade relationship.” The British government has suggested that the choice in talks is now between the Chequers trade proposal and no-deal. – Independent

French Senate leader says Brussels is being ‘crushed’ by its own bureaucracy

The European Union is paralysed by its own bureaucracy and it is at risk of “deconstruction” according to the President of the French Senate Gérard Larcher. The bloc faces an existential crisis as the European elite is out of touch with citizens’ concerns, he said. In a speech to right-wing senators, Mr Larcher denounced the failings of a “Europe in crisis, at risk of being deconstructed, and crushed by the weight of its technostructure, its inability to reinvent itself and by the widening gap it has created between itself and its citizens”. The conservative MP also criticised Europe’s failure to manage the migration crisis, accusing its leaders of “turning a blind eye to the immigration problem and shirking their responsibilities” towards migrants and refugees. Singling out Europe’s wait-and-see attitude towards mass migration, Mr Larcher said Italy had been “left alone for more than four years” to cope with the flow of migrants from North Africa because of Brussels’ “lack of solidarity and courage”. – Express

Deal for UK and France to end ‘scallop war’ hangs in the balance

French and British fishermen have failed to finalise a deal to end the “ scallop war”. In Paris on Friday, industry leaders were unable to agree an ideal compensation package during five hours of negotiations. A tentative agreement was made in London on Wednesday afternoon, but this was based on British fishermen being compensated financially. Pascal Coquet, who is in charge of shellfish at the French Fisheries Committee, said that British demands were “too high”. But according to France Info, Hubert Carré, director of the French national fish committee, said that although talks had stalled “they are not broken”. The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs suggested further talks could be held next week. “We are making progress,” a spokesperson said. “Discussions are continuing and we are looking at next steps.” – Financial Times

Lord Adonis tells Brexiteers to vote Conservative as he suggests Labour will back a second EU referendum

Labour’s Lord Adonis says Brexit supporters should vote Tory as Labour will back a second referendum. Speaking on LBC he said he was “confident” Labour will change its stance on Brexit and back remaining in the European Union. He responded to a question from Thomas in Worthing who asked the panel which party should he vote for as “a liberal-minded, disabled Brexiteer”. He replied: “If you are a Brexiteer, I hope you won’t vote for the Labour Party because the Labour Party is moving increasingly against Brexit. – The Sun

Trade unions open to backing new referendum on Brexit deal

Britain’s trade unions will demand that a second referendum on Brexit be kept on the table as the campaign to give the public a final say on Prime Minister Theresa May’s divorce deal gathers pace. The call will be made in an agreed statement by the Trades Union Congress umbrella group on Sunday, according to three people familiar with its contents. The move comes two weeks before the main opposition Labour Party’s annual conference and will add pressure on leader Jeremy Corbyn over a so-called “people’s vote.” Britain’s trade unions will demand that a second referendum on Brexit be kept on the table as the campaign to give the public a final say on Prime Minister Theresa May’s divorce deal gathers pace. The call will be made in an agreed statement by the Trades Union Congress umbrella group on Sunday, according to three people familiar with its contents. The move comes two weeks before the main opposition Labour Party’s annual conference and will add pressure on leader Jeremy Corbyn over a so-called “people’s vote.” – Bloomberg

UK committed to boosting trade ties with Africa as Brexit deadline looms

The United Kingdom has committed to boosting its trade relations with Rwanda and other African countries as the deadline for Brexit looms, Jo Lomas, the UK High Commissioner to Rwanda has said. Lomas was addressing the media in Kigali on UK’s plans about its relationship with Africa during the post-Brexit period. The UK voted to leave the European Union (EU), a 28-member body, by March 2019. But the exact terms of the withdrawal will be clearer before the end of the year. Between November and December, the European Council will take a decision on what the future relations of UK and EU will be. However, the implementation will go through until December 2020. – The New Times

Matthew Lynn: Europe outside the EU is thriving – and the UK can too

Switzerland is growing at a rapid 3.4pc. Norway is expanding at 2.2pc this year, the fastest of the Scandi economies. Iceland is at 3pc-plus this year as it gets back to its turbo-charged performance before the financial crash. What do they have in common? They are all in Europe, but outside the EU. Meanwhile, Italy is heading back into recession. France is stagnating again, and even Germany is slowing down with yet another plunge in factory orders this week. As the final quarter of the year starts, it is clear that the non-EU Europe will grow faster than the EU. – Telegraph (£)

George Freeman: The burden is on Brexiteers to make Brexit great for Britain. But I have a few ideas…

Imagine this. You are alive in 2010. Someone tells you that by the end of the decade two things will have happened: first, Britain will crash out of the largest trading bloc on earth without a deal in place; second, we will see a hard-Left Marxist facing allegations of anti-Semitism become Prime Minister and leader of the fifth largest economy on earth. Your response? Surely there would be no circumstances available, no politicians weak enough, to let such an unlikely series of events come to pass. Surely. How could our country be betrayed so badly by those in charge? And yet here we are. – George Freeman for The Times

James Forsyth: Irish border marks a line in the sand for any Brexit deal in this dangerous game of chicken with the EU

The EU and UK are engaged in a very dangerous game of chicken over the Irish border. There has been almost no progress on this issue over the summer — and without an ­agreement on it, there can’t be a deal. One of those involved in the negotiations on the British side tells me the EU “believes we will blink first”. But the British won’t do that. One Brexit red line that Theresa May is adamant that she will never cross is her insistence that no British PM could sign the EU’s proposed text on the Irish border, which would see Northern Ireland become part of the customs territory of the EU. – James Forsyth for The Sun

Express: Tories have to show they will give us a real Brexit

Should it be hard or soft? A complete break or close ties maintained with the EU? Certainly the prevailing opinion for many has been that the Chequers agreement did nothing like enough to assert our independence and is keeping us within the spirit, if not the actuality, of the EU. There are definitely real concerns that we may stay in the EU in all but name and if we do so the public disillusionment with the political class will be complete. All “hard” Brexit means is that for once the political class is obeying the will of the people rather than following its own agenda. Despite the incessant moaning of the Remainers the fact is that a majority voted to leave in the referendum and there is no evidence at all that they have changed their mind. Quite the opposite in fact: given the buoyant economy and the sense that we are finally getting close to taking control of our own destiny, large swathes of the country are looking forward to the big day. – Express editorial

Brexit in Brief

  • Juncker’s legacy to date. The loss of a member state. And the slated rise of a crony. – Syed Kamall MEP for ConservativeHome
  • Brexit: the Slow Death of Chequers, or a Cliff Hanger Deal? – Tony Connelly for RTE
  • Canada plus Brexit? We can do so much better than that – Ben Kelly for Telegraph (£)
  • Spending priorities – John Redwood’s Diary
  • Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable announces he will resign after Brexit is ‘resolved or stopped’ – Daily Mail
  • ‘Swexit’ on agenda as Swedish nationalists call for EU divorce ahead of election – Telegraph (£)
  • New party calling for Ireland to leave EU launches today – Express