Brexit News for Sunday 7 January

Brexit News for Sunday 7 January
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Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle to reflect diverse UK — but Boris Johnson will stay in post…

Theresa May will move or sack at least six members of her cabinet in a reshuffle tomorrow designed to refresh her top team. An aide said she wanted to “make sure the government reflects the modern and diverse country” we live in. Boris Johnson has been spared demotion and, along with Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd and David Davis, will stay in his post. But a group of younger women and non-white MPs will be drafted into the ministerial ranks. Those tipped to move or be sacked include party chairman Patrick McLoughlin; education secretary Justine Greening, said to have annoyed May with her “patronising” tone; Greg Clark, the business secretary; and Andrea Leadsom, leader of the Commons — who are all seen as “dead wood”. – Sunday Times (£)

…as PM says UK must ‘aim high’: Theresa May gets tough on Brexit after Tory rebels’ victory

Sources close to the Prime Minster have told the Sunday Express she “found out who her friends are” during the rebellion over the EU Withdrawal Bill, when pro-EU Tory colleagues voted against a Government three-line whip on Brexit. One impeccably-placed insider said the defeat made Mrs May realise that her support in the party lies with the Brexiteers, not the Remainers. They said: “Theresa found out who her friends are during that defeat and realised that most of the support, both inside and outside the party, lies with Brexit. Theresa genuinely sees herself as a public servant carrying out the people’s will and has lost a degree of respect for those who keep trying to reverse the referendum result.” – Express

  • Theresa May must be decisive on Brexit, bold on housing and fix social care this year – James Forsyth for the Sun on Sunday

‘We will channel Churchill’ – Brexiteers to warn Michel Barnier of ‘iron will’ to walk away from bad deal

A delegation of pro-Brexit politicians and campaigners will this week warn the EU’s chief negotiator that there is “huge support” for reverting to WTO rules instead of accepting a bad deal, in what they say will be a display of Churchillian “iron will.” Steven Woolfe, an MEP, will meet with Michel Barnier in Brussels along with former CBI head Lord Digby Jones, Labour Leave chairman John Mills, and former British Chamber of Commerce chief John Longworth. The group hopes to foster a more positive tone in the negotiations and to show Mr Barnier that large swathes of the UK are determined to quit the bloc – despite bids from Tony Blair and Lord Adonis to reverse the referendum result. – Telegraph (£)

Project Fear predictions that Brexit would damage the economy were ‘wildly wrong’

Economic organisations that warned a vote to leave the European Union would damage the British economy have already been proved “wildly wrong” in a series of predictions, according to an analysis by a leading pro-Brexit campaign. Leave Means Leave highlighted a series of forecasts by bodies including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which it described as “far off the mark”. – Telegraph (£)

  • Tony Blair is proven wrong as productivity rises – Express editorial

‘Your own voters don’t have a clue!’ Labour’s Emily Thornberry torn apart over Labour’s Brexit stance

The Labour Party has faced huge criticism for not clearly outlining its position on Brexit. Nick Robinson pointed out that Labour voters still didn’t know whether the party would like to Remain or Leave the European Union. The BBC host said: “There was a very striking poll of Labour voters only the other day which showed most Remainers think the Labour Party is like them, opposed to Brexit. “And most Labour voters who are Leavers, think the Labour Party is like them, actually in favour of getting out. –Express

  • Labour’s Brexit hokey-cokey wins votes, so far – FT (£)

…as Jeremy Corbyn criticised for refusing invite to cross-party meeting on single market…

Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of a “pathetic” lack of leadership after rejecting a call to join a cross-party coalition to keep Britain in the EU single market after Brexit. The SNP said the Labour leader was failing millions of working families after he turned down an invitation to co-ordinate efforts with other parties to block Government moves to take the UK out of the single market when it leaves the EU. Ian Blackford, the SNP leader at Westminster, is due to meet with the leaders of the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party on Monday to discuss a common approach to the issue in the weeks ahead. – Belfast Telegraph

Post-Brexit trade deal at risk if Donald Trump is not invited to Royal wedding, says Fire and Fury author

Donald Trump could sabotage a post-Brexit transatlantic trade deal with the UK if he is not invited to Prince Harry’s wedding, according to the author whose explosive book on the American president has roiled US politics. Michael Wolff says Mr Trump will only respect the Special Relationship if he “gets what he wants”. The warning comes from a journalist whose book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” is drawn from what he said was regular access to the West Wing and more than 200 interviews, including some three hours with Mr Trump himself. – Telegraph

  • ‘Fire and Fury’ author Michael Wolff claims Donald Trump didn’t know what Brexit was – Express

Theresa May urged to stay in single market by 20 British MEPs…

Theresa May is being urged to change course and seek full membership of the European single market and customs union by 20 British MEPs, including three Tories and the majority of Labour politicians based in Brussels. In a letter that lays down a challenge for the prime minister but also the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, the group claims the case for staying in the internal market has become stronger since the referendum. They warn that crashing out of the economic grouping would make Britain poorer and suggest that voters should still be given a chance to rethink Brexit altogether. – Observer

…as the PM faces Brexit clash with MPs over import tax

Theresa May is facing a New Year clash with opponents of Brexit as soon as MPs return to Westminster after their two-week Christmas break. Pro-Remain MPs claim that under new legislation being debated in the Commons on Monday, UK firms will be forced to pay VAT up front on imports from the EU. The VAT changes, included in the Government’s Taxation (Cross-border trade) Bill, could affect more than 130,000 UK firms, according to anti-Brexit MPs. Nicky Morgan, the Tory Brexit rebel who chairs the Treasury Select Committee, has told Sky News she plans to ask her committee to launch an urgent investigation when it meets on Tuesday. – Sky News

Daniel Hannan: Strange and counter-intuitive as it may seem, Britain’s trading future lies across the Pacific

Britain is not a Pacific country (other than in the technical sense of owning the Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno islands), but we have exceptionally close links to a number of places that are. Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, the US and Canada are common law, English-speaking territories. So, to a large degree, is Malaysia. It would be crazy not to use our freedom outside the EU to strengthen our trade links with the world’s fastest-growing region. To his credit, Liam Fox, the Trade Secretary, is doing precisely that. His department is actively considering membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which brings together 11 countries around the Pacific Rim – countries looking for fresh impetus following Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the pact. – Daniel Hannan for the Telegraph (£)

Dominic Lawson: Blair won’t stop at remain: his gang wants the euro

Blair has always displayed a remarkable facility for defining the terms of any debate to suit his own objective. When this far-from-dormant political volcano last erupted, four months ago, he wrote in this newspaper: “We have to respect the referendum result to change it.” Blair went on to explain this apparently nonsensical proposition. His argument, such as it was, went as follows: the vote to leave the EU was only because millions of people were unhappy about uncontrolled migration from the other 27 member states, so we just get Brussels to give us some sort of emergency brake on immigration and can then forget about the referendum result. Easy! – Dominic Lawson for the Sunday Times (£)

Barnabas Reynolds: How to achieve a successful Brexit deal for financial services

Now that the Brexit negotiations have turned to the possible shape of a financial services deal, we should understand what a good result would look like and why. A mutually advantageous deal would allow both the UK and EU financial sectors to trade freely and flourish. It would permit EU customers the cheapest access to capital. Most people in the sector want a mutual access arrangement for financial services which replicates what happens now – whereby UK-based firms operate across the EU supervised solely in the UK under pan-EU regulations, and EU-27 firms operate in the UK whilst being solely supervised in their home state. – Barnabas Reynolds for ConservativeHome

Henry Hill: There is scant evidence that May is about to u-turn on the Customs Union

It is becoming an established feature of the Brexit negotiations that they are full of twists and turns which, whilst exciting enough for those plugged into the drama, probably don’t signify very much in the long term. This week’s likely entry into this category is the news that the Government is leaving itself legislative wriggle-room to effectively replicate the Customs Union with the EU, even if we’re not a member. Much of the blame for this is being pinned on Philip Hammond, who having lost his battle to save our membership of the Customs Union has apparently decided to settle for a customs union. Yet it seems unlikely that the Prime Minister is really abandoning one of the central pillars of her vision of a ‘clean Brexit’. – Henry Hill for ConservativeHome

Dia Chakravarty: Ignore Tony Blair and Nick Clegg’s warnings about Brexit. They are yesterday’s men

Britain’s vote to leave the EU in June 2016 was reaffirmed at the 2017 general election. There, only one major party – the Liberal Democrats – campaigned for a rethink of the referendum result, and it put in a poor performance with just 7.4 per cent of the vote. Our politicians and civil servants must now deliver that decision. What, then, makes EU stalwarts such as Tony Blair and Sir Nick Clegg push on with their agenda of scuppering Brexit, continuing to peddle unsubstantiated rumours of economic doom? It is the knowledge that governments across Europe have a history of ignoring referendums to do with the EU when the result has not been to the satisfaction of the establishment. – Dia Chakravarty for the Telegraph (£)

Jacob Rees-Mogg: For the Tories to succeed the PM and Chancellor need to learn to get on

In the annals of Conservative Party history, 2017 will not go down as a vintage year. An unnecessary election on an unpopular manifesto helped Jeremy Corbyn and has made the Government’s life harder not just in relation to Brexit but also in other areas. 2018 is the opportunity to start afresh, and the best way to do it is to go back to first principles. What do Conservatives want to do and why? The dividing line between the Tory and the socialist is that we believe that individuals make better choices for themselves than the State can make for them. They believe that the interests of the collective are best served by the State making, or at least directing, the choices people make. – Jacob Rees-Mogg for The Sun

Brexit in brief

  • How to manufacture a more balanced economy – Telegraph
  • Lord Malloch Brown is here to coax us back to Brussels – Sunday Times (£)
  • Brexit offers the chance to positively rehsape our immigration policies – Telegraph (£)