Brexit News for Sunday 3 December

Brexit News for Sunday 3 December
Sign up here to receive the daily news briefing in your inbox every morning with exclusive insight from the BrexitCentral team

Senior Eurosceptics issue seven key ‘red lines’ for Theresa May ahead of crunch meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker…

Senior Eurosceptics have fired a warning shot at Theresa May, issuing seven new “red lines” she should not cross when she meets Jean‑Claude Juncker tomorrow to try to kickstart trade talks with the European Union… In their letter to the prime minister, more than 30 Eurosceptic former cabinet ministers, business leaders and economists have demanded that May gives no money to Brussels — and walks out of the negotiations — unless their conditions are met… The letter says: “If the EU refuses to agree to these terms by the end of the December council, the UK — having exhausted every avenue — should suspend its participation in the negotiations and inform the EU that, unless they are prepared to talk to us seriously about a future free trade arrangement, we will revert to World Trade Organisation terms from March 30, 2019.” – Sunday Times (£)

The hard-hitting letter, organised by Leave Means Leave and signed by business leaders and politicians across the political divide, accuses EU negotiators of acting in “a manner sadly unbecoming of an international body”. It also accuses the EU of demanding “vast sums of money from the UK but declining to set out what the UK will get in return”… Signatories to the letter include ex-Tory chancellor Lord Lawson, former Conservative Cabinet ministers Owen Paterson and John Redwood, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, Labour MP Graham Stringer, JD Wetherspoon pub chief Tim Martin and entrepreneur and Labour Leave founder John Mills. Mr Paterson said: “No money should be handed over until we have a clear commitment to reciprocal free trade with no tariff. If they don’t agree to that then tough, we will go to WTO rules. It’s not no deal, it’s a global deal.” – Sunday Express

  • Top Tory MPs tell PM to give EU ‘divorce’ ultimatum or walk away – The Sun on Sunday

> John Longworth on BrexitCentral today: Theresa May must lay down immutable red lines to Brussels and stick to them

…as PM is warned against Brexit deal that gives EU judges powers over UK courts

Theresa May has been warned not to accept a Brexit deal which could see the European Court of Justice continue to issue rulings which are binding on the British courts. Sir Richard Aikens, a former Court of Appeal judge, said such an agreement would be “tantamount to reversing the result of the 2016 referendum”. He was backed by the Conservative former cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith who suggested it could result in European judges ruling on future trade disputes between Britain and the EU… Sir Richard, the president of the Lawyers for Britain group, which campaigned for Leave in the referendum, warned her not to compromise on the issue of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in order to secure an agreement on citizens’ rights. – Belfast Telegraph

  • Tories ‘at war’ over European judges amid claims UK heading for version of Brexit ‘that effectively fails to leave EU’ – Sunday Telegraph (£)

> Owen Paterson MP on BrexitCentral today: An independent sovereign UK could not be bound by the rulings of a foreign court

Leo Varadkar ‘remains hopeful’ a Brexit deal can be reached as crunch talks continue…

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar remains hopeful a deal can be reached to avoid a hard border in Ireland as crunch Brexit talks continue this weekend… A government spokesman said Mr Varadkar “remains hopeful of a deal but at this stage it’s very difficult to make a prediction”. Earlier Mr Varadkar said Ireland has never threatened to use a veto in the Brexit negotiations. “A veto is something that you use when you’re isolated, when you’re on your own and there’s 26 countries against you… We have 26 countries behind us. We have European solidarity,” he said. – Irish Independent

…as he says Ireland is well on the way to achieving ‘Brexit goals’…

“We’re well on our way to achieving what we wanted” after the U.K. voted to leave the EU last year, Varadkar said in an RTE radio interview Saturday. A transition period “looks done and dusted” and maintaining the Common Travel Area is “there or thereabouts,” he said. Varadkar reiterated that Ireland wants talks to move to the next phase, but would not endorse that move without an acceptable offer from the U.K. on the future of the border with Northern Ireland… Before moving to phase two “we want to be clear about the parameters of those talks and that means having a written assurance that there will be an avoidance of a hard border and there are a number of ways to do that,” Varadkar said. – Bloomberg

  • Irish Economy at risk from Brexit, warns ECB – Times (£)
  • Ireland will not derail EU deal, says Trade Minister Greg Hands – Express
  • Government getting jittery about ‘sufficient progress’ – James Forsyth for the Spectator

…while the Irish Foreign Minister calls on Theresa May to keep UK in Customs Union and Single Market

Theresa May has indicated that the UK will be leaving both the customs union and the single market and will seek a future bespoke trade deal with the EU. Our great fear is that this will require border checks on the island of Ireland, which is inevitable between countries with different regulatory and customs arrangements. Our consistent first preference has been that the UK as a whole would choose a different path and remain in the customs union and single market, or arrangements to that effect. It is still not too late to move in that direction. However, in a context where a wider EU-UK trade deal falls short of that relationship and does not safeguard an open and invisible border, we believe that arrangements for Northern Ireland to remain aligned with the EU’s customs and regulatory systems represent the best way to avoid the reimposition of a hard border. – Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Simon Coveney for the Sunday Times (£)

Brexit legislation expected to be redrawn to head off revolt by Scottish Tories and SNP

Brexit Secretary [David Davis] has conceded that the Withdrawal Bill will have to be amended to address concerns that the current version of the legislation would result in a “power grab” by Whitehall on areas Scottish MPs insist should be dealt with by Holyrood. The disclosure comes as Scottish and Welsh Tories, together with SNP and Plaid Cymru MPs, are preparing to publicly warn ministers about the bill’s impact on devolution in a Commons debate on Monday… [A] source said ministers were preparing amendments to clause 11 of the bill, which deals with devolution and will be debated on Monday. But because the UK and devolved governments were still “hammering out” details of proposed compromises, any government amendments may not be tabled until the next stage of debate in the Commons – or could even be put forward only when the legislation reaches the Lords next year. – Sunday Telegraph (£)

> Henry Hill on BrexitCentral: Rushing post-Brexit devolution risks huge damage to the Union

Corbyn signals Labour could be open to second Brexit referendum

Asked if he was prepared to rule out a second vote after meeting with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa in Lisbon on Saturday, Corbyn said his party hasn’t fixed its position on the issue. “We’ve not made any decision on a second referendum,’’ Corbyn said at a European Socialist Party conference in the Portuguese capital. “What we’ve said is that we would respect the result of the first referendum.” …Since going into [the General Election] with a Brexit strategy similar to May’s Conservatives, Labour has diverged in recent months, saying it would keep open the options of remaining in the single market and customs union, both of which the premier has ruled out. – Bloomberg

  • Labour chaos: Now Corbyn does want second Brexit referendum – Express

Sunday Times launches campaign to ‘ignore sulking EU and pick our own city of culture’

Lord Bragg, the arts broadcaster, led calls this weekend for Britain to brush off rejection by Brussels and nominate a city to be our capital of culture for 2023. He said the hard work of five contenders need not be wasted, despite the decision by the European Commission to cancel Britain’s turn to hold the year-long city of culture event in 2023 because of Brexit. The Sunday Times is calling for one of the five to be crowned the British victor in defiance of the EU’s decision… Brussels is coming under pressure to reconsider its decision to exclude the UK. Representatives of 23 European capitals of culture, past and future, and from inside and outside the EU, have written an open letter urging the European Commission to reconsider its “mean spirited” announcement. – Sunday Times (£)

  • European capital of culture: a prize that brings tourism, investment and good vibes – Rosie Millard for the Sunday Times (£)

Iain Duncan Smith: The European Court of Justice’s authority must end if we are to take back control

Even as we get ready to leave, the EU has insisted that the ECJ retains the right to rule on the rights of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit. In fact, in May they made a declaration that they wanted continued application of Union law, on citizens’ rights, as well as application and interpretation of the other provisions of the Agreement, including the catch-all of authority to deal with unforeseen situations. To do this, they demanded the jurisdiction of the ECJ should be maintained. This is the most preposterous claim. The important question, however, is what the UK government’s response is. The Prime Minister has been robust on this point, saying that being beyond the authority of the ECJ was a red line. However, reports emanating from “informed” sources worryingly now seem to indicate that the government is minded to grant at least some of what the EU demands, particularly on entry to and residence in the UK. This would be quite unacceptable, as it would confound the PM’s red line and put the UK in the position of ceding power to a foreign court on which it has no representation to rule on those who would and should normally have their rights adjudicated by British courts. – Iain Duncan Smith MP for the Sunday Telegraph

Tom McTague: Theresa May’s crunch weekend

After a week of intense diplomacy, the two sides are within touching distance of a deal, according to U.K. officials who spoke to POLITICO on condition of anonymity… However, to get the agreement over the line, the prime minister must now make a series of contentious decisions on the so-called Brexit bill, citizens’ rights and Northern Ireland which U.K. negotiators are not empowered to make, according to one British official based in Brussels. “We are pretty close to agreeing enough to agree sufficient progress for Monday,” the official said. “The decisions come back to the prime minister. She can’t throw everything into phase two, she has to make some decisions now, but not everything will be resolved now.” – Tom McTague for Politico

Sun on Sunday: Theresa May has been mocked by Brussels bureaucrats and rocked by sex scandals but now she must show us the fire in her belly

In Europe, she must see some progress with Jean-Claude Juncker this week. If the PM doesn’t get something from him over a long (and no doubt liquid) lunch, she never will. Those pushing for the Prime Minister to walk away from talks if we don’t see compromise from the EU are bang on. It may be the festive season, but we’ve been generous enough with Brussels — and received barely a sprout in return. – The Sun on Sunday says

Daniel Hannan: Jeremy Corbyn would squander the potential of Brexit with even more regulation than Brussels

Outside the EU, our economic choices become more important. Brexit, of itself, won’t add a farthing to our national wealth. Rather, it will remove constraints. We can cut taxes, regulations and (through free trade) prices; or we can increase them. The trouble is that few want to engage in the argument for smaller government… Corbyn often accuses the Conservatives of wanting a more Singaporean economy. If only. Since 1950, Singapore – measured by per capita GDP – has gone from being half as rich as Britain to being twice as rich. Over the same period, life expectancy in Singapore rose from 66 to 83; in Britain from 71 to 81. Poor Singaporeans are demonstrably better off than poor Brits. The danger is that, outside the EU, we become not so much Singaporean as Venezuelan: that taxes and regulations rise while freedom and prosperity fall. – Daniel Hannan MEP for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Macer Hall: Agreement near yet still so far

Ministers suspect the next stage in the negotiations, focusing on the future trade relationship between Britain and the EU, could be even more gruelling and ill-tempered than the preliminary engagements. “It is becoming clear that Brussels has a very different idea about what free trade means than we do,” one ministerial source close to the negotiations told me. EU officials are expected to be all in favour of minimal tariffs and restrictions on goods to ensure the continuing flow of Italian prosecco, German cars and French cheese to the lucrative UK market. When looking at services they are predicted to take a very different stance that could be costly for Britain’s financial sector. Mrs May is likely to come under pressure to increase her financial offer to Brussels to protect the City of London’s access to EU financial markets. – Macer Hall for the Sunday Express

Liam Halligan: Our fishermen should land Brexit benefits

The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy is a bloated, bureaucratic mess that incenses both the UK fishing industry and environmentalists concerned about over-fishing. It is also grossly unfair. Around 60pc of the fish caught in UK waters are claimed by non-British boats. Such vessels have caught eight times more fish in British waters over the last five years than UK boats have from other parts of the EU… Some of the UK’s most deprived rural areas are adjacent to the coast, and they should benefit too. Commercial fishing – a small, but hugely symbolic industry – is one area where Brexit can bring immediate and tangible benefits. There are many, many others. – Liam Halligan for the Sunday Telegraph (£)

Brexit comment in brief

  • To limit the harm done by Brexit, stay in the EU single market – Nicola Sturgeon for the Guardian
  • Don’t worry, the ‘Brexit bill’ will save us a fortune – Dia Chakravarty for the Sunday Telegraph (£)
  • Brexit ministers fall in behind May and the deal she didn’t want – Adam Boulton for the Sunday Times (£)
  • Do EU27 really want euro clearing? – Fiona Maxwell for Politico
  • A messy Brexit will lead to a radical Labour government – Hugo Dixon for the FT (£)
  • EU propaganda and a frightening roadmap to federalism – Daniel Huggins for the Commentator
  • Catalonia braces itself for another independence fight – Mark Nayler for the Spectator

Brexit news in brief

  • Theresa May under growing pressure to reveal true cost of divorce bill amid Conservative unrest – Independent
  • Immigration is a ‘good thing’ for Britain says Brexit backing JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin – Independent
  • German MEP hits out at EU’s “illogical” and “purposefully disruptive” negotiating stance – Express
  • Nigel Farage in line for £73,000 pension – Sunday Times (£)