Brexit News for Tuesday 12 September

Brexit News for Tuesday 12 September
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EU Withdrawal Bill passes Second Reading by 326 to 290…

The government’s bid to extract the UK from EU law in time for Brexit has passed its first parliamentary test. MPs backed the EU Withdrawal Bill by 326 votes to 290 despite critics warning that it represented a “power grab” by ministers. The bill, which will end the supremacy of EU law in the UK, now moves onto its next parliamentary stage… Having cleared the second reading stage, the bill will now face more attempts to change it with Conservative MPs believed to have tabled new amendments. – BBC News

> On BrexitCentral: Full lists showing how every MP voted on the Second Reading of the EU Withdrawal Bill

> On BrexitCentral: Video highlights of yesterday’s debate

…as Labour suffers mini-rebellion with MPs defying Jeremy Corbyn…

Jeremy Corbyn had ordered his MPs to vote against the Government. But a total of seven Labour MPs rebelled and voted with the Government to pass the Bill. Thirteen abstained in the vote (although at least one missed the debate as a result of hospital treatment)… However, the majority of Labour MPs voted against the Bill. A party source said some of Mr Corbyn’s supporters believed the voting against would help to force a new general election… Labour’s Caroline Flint, who defied the three-line whip to abstain, was heckled by her colleagues after warning that voters would not support her party’s decision to block the Bill. – Telegraph (£)

  • Labour rebels in full – Guido Fawkes
  • Leave voters should never forget the day Corbyn’s cronies chose to betray them by voting against the Brexit Bill – The Sun says

…but Tory MPs also threaten to rebel if the Government does not accept amendments to the Bill

Senior Tory backbenchers were among those racing to lay down critical amendments immediately after the vote, as a big queue formed in which MPs jostled to table their suggestions first. Significantly, the former attorney general Dominic Grieve teamed up with his Tory colleague John Penrose, to warn against a power grab by ministers through so-called Henry VIII powers. Their calls for change came alongside a series of amendments from MPs from across the House of Commons, including Brexit-supporting Labour politicians and the opposition frontbenches. – Guardian

  • Tory MPs threaten revolt if Bill is not amended – The Times (£)
  • With my proposed changes to the repeal bill, Henry VIII will stay in his grave – John Penrose MP for the Guardian
  • There is a solution to the concerns of those criticising the EU Withdrawal Bill’s new powers – Iain Duncan Smith MP for ConservativeHome
  • How Britain’s backbenchers plan to change the course of Brexit – Charlie Cooper for Politico

Corbyn provokes fresh confusion with EU single market comments

Jeremy Corbyn has provoked confusion over Labour’s Brexit position by suggesting the UK could remain a member of the EU’s single market indefinitely after leaving the bloc. The Labour leader appeared to soften Labour’s stance on the issue, saying he wanted the UK to “trade within the single market” after Brexit. He said it was “open for discussion” as to whether this should involve formal membership… Mr Corbyn’s spokesperson later issued a clarification, insisting the party’s position had not changed. “We won’t be ‘members’ of the single market after transition,” they said. “We want to achieve full tariff-free access to the single market.” …In response to Mr Corbyn’s comments, Tory MP and Brexit supporter James Cleverly said: “Fourteen months on from the referendum vote and Labour are still yet to set out a clear position on Brexit – the single most important issue facing our country. – Sky News

  • Jeremy Corbyn: Single market membership ‘open for discussion’ (audio) – BBC News
  • Continued formal membership of single market post-Brexit ‘open for discussion’, Jeremy Corbyn claims – Telegraph
  • Corbyn unveils five-year plan to stay on as Labour leader – The Times (£)
  • Labour’s Brexit policy clearly explained – Guido Fawkes
  • Jeremy Corbyn’s clever* confusion on Brexit – Katy Balls for the Spectator

Britain promises ‘indivisible’ link with EU militaries after Brexit

Ministers will say today that Britain’s security will always be “indivisibly linked” with Europe as the government pledges to continue supplying UK troops, technology and intelligence to EU defence missions after Brexit. In an attempt to win allies among the EU 27 ahead of next month’s crucial summit, the government will offer an “unprecedented” future partnership with Brussels taking in defence, foreign policy and aid spending… Government sources insisted it did not represent a weakening of Britain’s opposition to a European army — seen as a challenge to Nato’s position as the principal organisation for European security and defence — but was designed to demonstrate that the UK had no desire to reduce its security co-operation with Brussels. – The Times (£)

  • UK seeks defence partnership with EU – BBC News
  • UK to offer EU deals on foreign policy and joint military operations – Guardian
  • Britain hopes promise of defence and security cooperation will persuade EU to start trade talks – Telegraph (£)
  • Shared interests will leave our defence role unchanged – Boris Johnson for The Times (£)

Britain beats Europe in global power index…

The UK is the most geopolitically capable country in Europe according to a new report on global power. Britain beat France, Germany and Russia on world power rankings which measured economics, technological prowess, military strength and cultural prestige. Globally the UK came second only to the United States in the Audit of Geopolitical Capability produced by the Henry Jackson Society. Former Vote Leave CEO Matthew Elliott said: “I’m delighted at this latest report which confirms the UK’s status as a global power. Britain’s position as the most geopolitically capable country in Europe kills stone dead the idea that Britain cannot stand on its own two feet after Brexit.” – BrexitCentral

  • Brexit Britain ‘wields most influence in Europe and is second only to US worldwide’ – Telegraph
  • Britain is the second most ‘powerful’ country in the world beating Russia, India and France, experts reveal – The Sun

…as survey says London is still world’s top financial centre despite Brexit

London has retained its position as the world’s top financial centre despite fears that the City will become less attractive for financiers in the wake of Brexit. New York – London’s closest rival and expected beneficiary of the fallout from the UK’s leaving the EU – has fallen further behind amid uncertainty about Donald Trump’s views on free trade. The Z/Yen global financial centres index (GFCI), which ranks 92 financial centres, found that New York’s ratings score had fallen by 24 points – the largest fall among the top 15… “Interestingly, despite the ongoing Brexit negotiations, London only fell two points, the smallest decline in the top 10,” the report said. – Guardian

  • The City rebuffs Brexit recruitment worries with the number of jobs up by nearly a third in August – City A.M.
  • British employers optimistic about their hiring plans – FT (£)
  • City law firms boosted by growth as they weather Brexit uncertainty – City A.M.
  • The City’s success cannot be taken for granted: London’s advantages do not guarantee its future dominance – Christian May for City A.M.

Ruth Davidson ‘not flying the flag for Brexit’

The Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said she would campaign to remain in the European Union if another referendum were to be held. In an interview with BBC director of news James Harding she said she was “not flying the flag for Brexit”… She added: “I would quite happily never have a constitutional referendum in my lifetime on anything ever again”. A high-profile Remain campaigner ahead of the EU referendum last June, Ms Davidson has previously said she wants the UK to keep the “largest amount of access” to the single market after Brexit. – BBC News

  • Nicola Sturgeon calls for Holyrood unity over Brexit – but refuses to withdraw indy ref 2 threat – Telegraph (£)

DUP say backing Tories on committees vote is ‘uncontroversial’

The DUP will back the Conservatives in a vote later on changing the make-up of committees which scrutinise government legislation, the BBC has learned. The government wants to ensure there is a Tory majority on the committees – even though the party does not have a majority on its own in Parliament. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn has accused ministers of an “unprecedented attempt to rig Parliament”. But a senior DUP source described the party’s support as “uncontroversial”. The row was sparked by a motion which will come before MPs for a crunch vote on Tuesday. – BBC News

  • Gina Miller in new challenge to Government over Commons approval for £1 billion DUP deal – Telegraph
  • May pleads with Trump to help save Belfast jobs threatened by Boeing trade dispute – The Times (£)

Labour peer slammed after attacking ministers over Brexit and vowing to attempt to reverse Britain’s plans to quit the EU

The Labour peer heading up the Government’s infrastructure body has been rapped over the knuckles after he attacked ministers over Brexit. Lord Adonis, who is in charge of the National Infrastructure Commission, slammed Brexit Secretary David Davis’ negotiating tactics. And he vowed to attempt to reverse Britain’s plans to quit the EU laying out his vision to “defeat” Brexit in a left wing Sunday newspaper. A Whitehall source confirmed yesterday the former Labour Transport Secretary had been “ticked off” as a result of his intervention… Tory Charlie Elphicke said: “There must be a concern that Lord Adonis is more interested in reversing Brexit than preparing for it. Perhaps it’s time for new leadership at the Infrastructure Commission.” – The Sun

Brexit could land business with annual £4bn customs bill without transitional deal, according to report

British businesses that export to Europe could collectively face a multi-billion pound Brexit bill if the UK and the European Union are unable to agree a transitional customs deal, a think-tank has warned. The Institute for Government (IFG) says that should the UK leave the EU without a negotiated agreement on customs, controls at borders “could be introduced overnight”. It calculates that there are 180,000 business – most of them SMEs – trading with Europe who will need to make customs declarations following Brexit, landing them with a combined bill of at least £4bn in the first year alone. – Telegraph

Victoria Hewson: It’s time to dispel the Irish border Brexit myths

The reality, according to Northern Ireland government figures, is that only 6 per cent of sales by Northern Ireland businesses are to the Republic, while 21 per cent go to the rest of the UK. This shows that for Northern Ireland, a deal that purports to preserve its trade with the Republic by establishing a border with the rest of the UK (which is what staying in a customs union or single market arrangement would mean for Northern Ireland) is deeply counterproductive from an economic perspective. It is also politically unacceptable to a majority of Northern Irish people and constitutionally dubious. – Victoria Hewson for the Telegraph (£)

  • Mutual Interest: How the UK and EU can resolve the Irish border issue after Brexit – Shanker Singham et al. report for the Legatum Institute

Ray Bassett: EU paper comes up short on issue of Irish border

The long-awaited document is actually a huge cop out. It point-blank refuses to clarify the EU position and states that the onus remains on the United Kingdom to propose imaginative and unique solutions… On the Irish side, we seem very capable of describing the problems but very short on specific proposals which might actually rectify the situation… In reality, the reason that the EU is not committing itself to any proposals in its Irish paper is that they have privately precluded any possibility of avoiding a hard border… However, this delaying tactic can only be used for a short period, so expect a huge effort in the Irish media to blame the British rather than the true culprits, the EU establishment in Brussels, who are much more interested in maintaining their own position than seeking a workable solution for Ireland. In the circumstances, we must consider all options including exiting the EU Customs Union. – Ray Bassett, former Irish ambassador, for the Business Post

James Forsyth: Theresa May must make sure that Brexit doesn’t just become a process story

The EU Withdrawal Bill is undoubtedly an important piece of legislation. But I suspect that the bickering over Henry VIII clauses and affirmative statutory instruments passes most voters by. This is why it’s imperative that Theresa May keeps reminding voters of what the point of Brexit is, of what it will enable this country to do. One of the many problems with the Tory general election campaign was that it turned Brexit into a process story. May talked endlessly about the need to strengthen her hand in the negotiations. But as Andrea Leadsom complained in the political Cabinet’s post-mortem of the election campaign, May never said what Brexit was actually for. – James Forsyth for the Spectator

Tom Harris: I wish Tony Blair would stop squandering his enormous talent on the lost cause of reversing Brexit

Whatever criticisms Tony Blair’s detractors may have of the former prime minister’s latest intervention on the EU debate, one thing at least can be agreed: it comes at least two years too late… Without meaning to, Blair might just have outlined an open, generous but tightly-controlled set of policies that could help the UK, outside the EU, to prosper by welcoming people here to work and encouraging them to leave if they don’t. I suspect that was not his aim. But he will probably have to settle for what he can get, because his primary ambition – of thwarting Brexit altogether with the promise of a stricter immigration regime that neither his nor subsequent governments introduced when they had the chance – is not going to be achieved. – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)

  • Jeremy Corbyn dismisses Tony Blair’s latest attempt to halt Brexit with tougher immigration policies – Independent
  • Tony Blair is the reason that we are leaving the EU – Express editorial
  • Tony Blair’s incredulous immigration journey is hypocritical and insincere – Steven Woolfe MEP on BrexitCentral

Nick Timothy: Britain has shown itself as a constructive negotiator but will need to compromise to achieve a deal that works for us as much as it works for Europe

Sensible European politicians and officials know that while departure without a deal would harm Britain, it would hurt Europe too… If the Europeans stay calm and rational, a deal should be agreed. But if they see Brexit as a threat that could unravel the whole European project, Brussels might behave like an imperial capital of an old, collapsing empire: by punishing Britain to try to keep everybody else together… First, however reasonable we are in the negotiations and however rational it is for the EU to want a deal, we must still be prepared for a “no deal” scenario… It is also true that Britain cannot be prepared to sign a deal regardless of the price. That is the surest way to end up with a new arrangement that suits the EU but penalises Britain. That is why the Europeans must know we are serious when we say: “No deal is better than a bad deal for Britain.” – Nick Timothy for The Sun

  • PM’s former chief of staff Nick Timothy says we should give ‘preferential’ treatment to Europeans who want to work here – The Sun
  • No deal really is better than a bad deal with Brussels – Ross Clark for the Express

Brexit comment in brief

  • David Davis and Michel Barnier should strive for a fair Brexit deal, not a punch-up – Rob Wilson for the Telegraph (£)
  • Dame Judi Dench and the luvvie myth of British isolation from Europe – Iain Martin for Reaction
  • Juncker’s State of the Union: What to expect from EU Commission president’s key address – Nick Gutteridge for the Express
  • What Juncker won’t tell you about the real state of the EU – Diane James MEP for City A.M.
  • As David Cameron predicted, MPs are bogged down in Brexit bickering – Michael Deacon for the Telegraph (£)
  • EU’s attack on American tech giants will backfire badly – Matthew Lynn for the Telegraph (£)
  • EU’s biggest problem: Over-powerful national governments – Gianni Pittella MEP, Socialist leader in the European Parliament, for Politico
  • Why some Catalans want to break away from Spain – Diego Torres for Politico

Brexit news in brief

  • Low interest rates a bigger worry than Brexit for UK investors – Telegraph
  • Europeans need not apply: evidence mounts of discrimination in UK – Guardian
  • Norway election: EEA membership under strain as eurosceptic parties expected to make gains – Independent
  • Google appeals against huge EU anti-trust fine – BBC News
  • Vast rally for Catalan independence in Barcelona – BBC News