May says UK can 'set example to world' with Brexit deal: Brexit News for Tuesday 6 March

May says UK can 'set example to world' with Brexit deal: Brexit News for Tuesday 6 March
Sign up here to receive the daily news briefing in your inbox every morning with exclusive insight from the BrexitCentral team

Theresa May says UK can ‘set example to world’ with its Brexit deal…

The UK can “set an example to the world” in the way it negotiates a new relationship with the EU after Brexit, Theresa May has said. In a statement to Parliament, the PM said the task would be “complex” but a deal was in both sides’ interests. She insisted she would not allow Brexit to disrupt “historic progress” made in Northern Ireland through a hard border… But equally she said the UK could not accept the border effectively being moved into the Irish Sea – which critics say is what will happen if Northern Ireland remains in the customs union… Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith praised the PM’s leadership and said the UK should not accept it could not have the exact deal it wanted, telling MPs “cake exists to be eaten and cherries exist to be picked”. – BBC News

> WATCH: Iain Duncan Smith suggests to Theresa May that “cake exists to be eaten and cherries exist to be picked”

…as she invites the Tory ‘mutineers’ into Downing Street for peace talks…

Theresa May has invited Conservative MPs who are trying to soften her stance on Brexit into Downing Street for peace talks [yesterday] evening. The Independent understands around a dozen backbench MPs including key figures who have sought to change Ms May’s position have been given the opportunity to speak with her. It comes after a keynote speech last week was publicly welcomed by MPs from both sides of the Brexit debate in the Conservatives, but with underlying tensions continuing to strain [the] party… One backbencher told The Independent: “The ‘mutineers’ have been invited in to have a chat with the Prime Minister. The speech went some way to lowering the heat for now, but they clearly still have a lot of concerns about what is happening.” – Independent

…after it emerges David Cameron gave her advice on ‘sensible’ Brexit speech

Theresa May sought advice from David Cameron on her Brexit speech in the latest sign of an improving relationship with her predecessor. The prime minister briefed him during a phone call before the address on Friday. He is understood to have told her that the content was sensible… Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Westminster Hour programme Baroness Bertin, his former press secretary, said that he had wanted to give her the “space to set her policies forward”. She added: “He thinks, by the way, that she’s making absolutely the right decision in the way that she’s going and he’s very supportive of her. He hasn’t changed his mind that he thinks it would have been better to stay in the EU. He’s deeply patriotic and he absolutely does believe a deal is possible.” – The Times (£)

  • Theresa May advised by David Cameron on her EU negotiations for a Brexit trade deal – The Sun

Sinn Féin has ‘meeting of minds’ with Barnier ahead of his showdown with the DUP today…

Sinn Féin shared a meeting of minds at talks with the EU’s chief negotiator on Monday, the party said. Party President Mary Lou McDonald made the comments after she and her party colleagues met Michel Barnier in Brussels… She said the British government had to come up with Plan A and Plan B, and there could be be no overall agreement on Brexit unless the issue of the border was solved. The Sinn Féin leader said her party was “not looking for a border down the Irish Sea”… Today he will get a very different perspective when he hosts the DUP leader Arlene Foster and her deputy Nigel Dodds in Brussels. The DUP opposes special status for Northern Ireland and are against staying in the customs union or single market. The party insists that recent EU proposals would break up the UK. Nigel Dodds has said an internal border would be “catastrophic” for Northern Ireland to be “cut off” from UK. – BBC News

  • Irish PM Varadkar rules out three-way talks as Sinn Fein meet with EU negotiators over Irish border – Independent

…as Arlene Foster calls for explicit guarantee of no Irish Sea border in Brexit treaty

The Brexit withdrawal treaty needs to include an explicit guarantee that no border will be placed in the Irish Sea, according to Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster… “[The] December agreement needs to be translated fully and not some elements of it dismissed in order to fulfill one particular outcome,” Foster said before a meeting with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, on Tuesday. “The draft legal text produced last week is not a full and faithful representation. It is utterly unacceptable for Northern Ireland to be treated separately from the rest of the United Kingdom as set out in the draft EU legal text. We will never support any such concept and the EU need to realise such concepts will never be accepted and agreed by the UK.” – Bloomberg

  • Jacob Rees-Mogg roasts ‘aggressive’ European Commission on Irish border in furious House of Commons tirade – Express

> DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds MP on BrexitCentral today: It’s high time Michel Barnier’s actions matched his words on the Irish border

> WATCH: DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly on EU attempts to interfere in UK constitutional affairs

Hammond urges no-deal planning to continue until 2020

Philip Hammond said yesterday that no-deal planning must continue until the end of 2020, publicly recognising the scale of the negotiation that would still face the country after Brexit. The chancellor told MPs on the European scrutiny committee that it was likely to be possible to “stand down” preparations for no deal on the date of Brexit once an implementation plan had been agreed with other EU leaders. He said it would probably then be necessary to start preparing once more for a cliff edge at the end of the transition period, set for December 2020. The European Commission is expecting to conclude a broad outline agreement on Britain’s future partnership by October this year, possibly running to between 20 and 40 pages. This will be turned into a 1,500-page free-trade deal during the implementation period starting in March next year. – The Times (£)

  • Philip Hammond says Government could continue with no-deal planning until transition period ends in 2020 or 2021 – Independent
  • EU plans vague trade deal offer in blow to UK hopes – Bloomberg
  • UK airlines urgently need transition deal, warns Philip Hammond – Guardian

> WATCH: Kate Hoey asks Philip Hammond: Who leaked that gloomy document?

Leading Brexiteers urge Theresa May not to roll over on fishing quotas…

Leading Brexiteers have warned Theresa May not to sacrifice fishing quotas and tough immigration rules as Brexit negotiating pawns. Senior Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg said he has “points of concern” with the PM’s ambiguous language on the UK’’s waters in her landmark EU trade deal speech on Friday. The PM pledged to deliver “a fairer allocation” of quotas for struggling British fishermen, but also promised to “agree reciprocal access to waters” as part of her pitch for a wide-ranging deal. Mr Rees-Mogg told BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster: “The points of concern relate to commitments around fishing. It’s very important that the British fishing community is protected in Brexit. They were very badly let down when we joined in 1973, and they shouldn’t be used as an easy negotiating offer in this round.” – The Sun

…as Theresa May promises the City won’t lose its grip on global finance

Speaking at an exclusive event at the British Museum in London, the Prime Minister defended her decision not to consider so-called passporting rights for the financial services sector. “[The City] is a global financial centre, it provides huge amounts of debt and equity funding for businesses across the EU 27, and the risk is born here in the UK. “It wouldn’t be right for us to take that risk on if we were simply having to take on all the rules that were being introduced by other people without us having a say,” she said, adding that Chancellor Philip Hammond plans to set out more details later this week. – Telegraph

Treasury experts used “unrealistic” assumptions, “flawed analysis” and “exaggerated” evidence for Brexit predictions, say Cambridge academics…

Academics from the University of Cambridge – who mostly voted Remain in the referendum – said that gloomy civil servants had a “poor record” and their sums were “flawed”. After leaked impact assessments showing a pessimistic picture of leaving the EU were released earlier this year, Brexiteers blamed Remainers for trying to undermine our EU exit… Cambridge researchers claimed that it was “unacceptable in an open democracy” for the Treasury to refuse to discuss their approach to the forecasts… And they hit out at Remain-supporting media for only jumping on the very pessimistic predictions made about our EU exit. “Much of the economic assessment of the impact of Brexit has been flawed,” they argued. “Most estimates of the impact of Brexit in the UK, both short-term and long-term, have exaggerated the degree of potential damage to the UK economy.” – The Sun

…as Foreign Office sidelined in organisation of Commonwealth leaders’ summit amid EU bias fears

The Foreign Office has been sidelined from organising the first Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Britain for 20 years amid concerns officials are too “dedicated” to the European Union. Dozens of civil servants at the Cabinet Office has been given the job of setting up and running the summit which now has increased focus because Britain is leaving the EU. The news came as the head of the Royal Commonwealth Society said the Foreign Office has a “problem” with the Commonwealth because its officials are too used to dealing with the European Union… Whitehall officials are said to be hoping to use the meeting to ‘step up’ the pace of preparations for non-EU trade deals before Britain leaves the EU in March next year. – Telegraph

> Dr Samura Kamara on BrexitCentral today: Sierra Leone is deeply grateful for the aid, Britain – but now let’s trade

> Lord Howell previously on BrexitCentral: Brexit is rightly making us focus on the network and markets of the Commonwealth

Brussels backlash to Martin Selmayr’s appointment intensifies

The backlash against Martin Selmayr’s appointment to the European Commission’s top civil service post turned into open warfare Monday, with journalists accusing senior officials of a cover up. The Commission’s normally sedate midday press briefing turned into a verbal brawl between reporters and chief spokesman Margaritis Schinas. It came on the 13th day of questions about the lightning-quick elevation of Selmayr, Jean-Claude Juncker’s domineering chief of staff, to the role of secretary-general, leader of the Commission’s 33,000-strong civil service. It followed allegations of Machiavellian machinations, from the buying of commissioners’ support for the promotion to a plan to increase the severance packages they receive at the end of their term, and a rumored takeover by Selmayr of the Commission’s legal service — all of which the Commission vehemently denied. – Politico

Henry Newman: May is right – the EU cherry-picks whenever it is politically convenient. Brexit should be such a time

We spend a huge amount of time focusing on the red lines from the UK side. Rightly these are called into question and scrutinised. We spend far less time thinking about the EU’s own red lines and their validity… For some time, Michel Barnier sought to argue that the UK could only adopt an existing model – either Norway or Canada. Yet the European Commission’s own internal documents refer to a “tailored approach” taking “into account the UK’s unique ‘proximity/market size’ mix”. Neither Norway nor Canada would solve the issue of avoiding a hard border with Ireland, which the EU has repeatedly said is one of its key aims… In its treatment of Britain, the EU claims to be only enforcing its existing rules. Yet it has of course chosen before to bend and flex those rules when it suited its political imperatives. Plenty of things were manipulated to allow countries into the Eurozone which patently didn’t meet the criteria, and then other rules were broken to keep the currency afloat. In other areas, treaty and political obligations have been similarly massaged. – Henry Newman for ConservativeHome

  • The EU is a legal order, but it can be flexible when it wants to be – Gideon Rachman for the FT (£)

David Campbell-Bannerman: The EU may now be taken aback by our far-sighted Brexit plan. That will be good for all us

The Prime Minister delivered an excellent, well-honed speech, with great authority, confidence and grasp of the complexities of the subject on Friday… I am personally delighted to see that the clear policy is to have a global Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the EU in the manner of other independent sovereign nations such as Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and to reject the ‘half in half out’ type proposal such as Norway’s EEA (European Economic Area) or remaining in the Customs Union, both of which would make the UK a rule taker not a rule maker… All in all the EU can no longer say that they don’t know what Britain wants. They may now be taken aback by the clarity, reasonableness and far-sighted vision displayed by the Prime Minister. But that will be good for all of us. – David Campbell-Bannerman MEP for the Telegraph (£)

  • Despite all the forecasts of doom, Brexit is not a ‘darkest hour’ for the UK – Lord Flight for ConservativeHome

Matthew Elliott: Could Italy’s election result spell the end of the EU as we know it?

Crucially, Italy’s new government will be unable to make the hard decisions necessary to improve the country’s economy. With a chaotic coalition, a severely indebted state and a weakened banking sector, both Italian companies and individuals will keep their money parked in northern Europe, leaving local banks unable to lend, resulting in continued recession. Unlike Greece, Italy is too big to fail. The outcome, at some point in the future, will be for some of the southern European states to kickstart their economies by leaving the Eurozone and devaluing their currencies. This alone will spell the end of the EU as we know it. And the Italian election result has brought that day forward. – Matthew Elliott for City A.M.

  • Populists in Italy clamour for power as Europe looks on stunned – The Times (£)
  • 5 scenarios for Italy’s next government – Jacopo Barigazzi for Politico
  • Italy, Europe’s breakaway province – Stefano Stefanini for Politico
  • Silvio Berlusconi’s grand failure – Guilia Paravicini for Politico
  • Italy’s 5Stars’ dilemma: It won. Now what? – Giada Zampano for Politico
  • Italy’s weakened establishment should offer mavericks a share of responsibility – Paul Taylor for Politico
  • Populist revolt in Italy leaves young at risk of measles – Ian Birrell for The Times (£)

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Italy’s political earthquake will shake the old European hegemony to its foundations

Italian voters have swept away their country’s pro-European establishment after seventy years of unbroken rule, marking a revolutionary turn in Europe’s post-war history. Populist parties of Left and Right command the political landscape of a major eurozone state for the first time, vowing openly to defy EU fiscal rules, banking codes, and migrant policies. Both wings have pledged to roll back reforms forced on Italy by the European Commission and the European Central Bank. Both are committed to manifestos that put them on an unstoppable collision course with the Franco-German hegemony… “The euro is and remains a failure,” was the opening salvo of Matteo Salvini, triumphant leader of populist Lega. “It is clear in our minds that the system of monetary union is destined to end, and therefore we wish to prepare for that moment.” He warned the global “bond vigilantes” and Europe’s political leaders that a newly sovereign Italy will not again be cowed into submission. “We couldn’t give a damn about bond spreads. It is ‘No’ to Berlin, ‘No’ to Paris, and ‘No’ to Brussels: Italians are going to decide for Italy from now on,” he said. – Ambrose Evans-Pritchard for the Telegraph (£)

  • Italy’s Eurosceptic surge will only deepen the Brexit stand-off – Peter Foster for the Telegraph (£)
  • How the death of the moderate Left is unleashing chaos and extremism across Europe – William Hague for the Telegraph (£)
  • Four questions from the Italian election – Mark Wallace for ConservativeHome
  • The meteor that wiped out the Italian establishment wasn’t populism. It was poor leadership – Alberto Mingardi for Politico
  • Populist gains in Italy show the scale of Europe’s anger epidemic – Rafael Behr for the Guardian
  • Italy’s elections highlight deep anxiety about migration. If the EU wants to avoid a clean sweep by populists it should invest in guarding its borders – Times leader (£)

John Longworth: Thousands of firms have been left voiceless on Brexit

We are entering the trade association conference season. These are the same business groups who have, at best, poured cold water on our post-Brexit prospects and opportunities and, at worst, set out to sabotage Brexit and undermine democracy itself. It is taken as read that they are “the voice of business”, they are relied upon by the media and often quoted. They set out to influence government and thus impact on the democratic process. But who are they and do they really speak for business? …Even if [their] claims to membership were correct, which they are not, the combined total would add up to less than one sixth of all the businesses in the UK. So even when these groups speak with one voice there is a deafening silence from millions of unrepresented businesses, who may have a very different view. In the past this hasn’t mattered too much because business tends to agree on the big issues, with the technical matters covered by individual sector groups. But on Brexit it matters greatly because many see this very differently. The greatest distortion of opinion has been perpetrated by the CBI. – Former BCC Director General John Longworth for the Telegraph (£)

Brexit comment in brief

  • Britain would be hit by US trade war regardless of Brexit – Oliver Wright for The Times (£)
  • Brexit is the property sector’s chance to spur real investment – Ben Habib for City A.M.
  • The 5G race is on, but Europe is lagging behind – Arjun Kharpal for City A.M.
  • Jeremy Corbyn is the real danger to Irish peace, not Brexit – Leo McKinstry for the Express
  • PM is torn between duty and Brexit reality – Rachel Sylvester for The Times (£)
  • Adopt ID cards and Britain can stay in the single market – Conor Pope for The Times (£)
  • What you need to know about the UK’s Data Protection Bill and Brexit – Annabelle Dickson for Politico
  • UK farmers caught between Brexit and changing consumer tastes – Scheherazade Daneshkhu for the FT (£)
  • German coalition fails to solve woes of the weak centre-left – Mujtaba Rahman for the FT (£)

Brexit news in brief

  • May and Labour agreed on continued EU medical co-operation after Brexit – Express
  • Guy Verhofstadt visits London today to tell Theresa May she must produce ‘credible proposals’ – Independent
  • Britain should be wary of striking quick trade deals with China, Indian CEO says – Telegraph (£)
  • UK-US Open Skies talks hit Brexit turbulence – FT (£)
  • Trade war looms as EU readies retaliation on bourbon and Levi jeans over US steel and aluminium tariff move – City A.M.
  • Whiskey and Levis in crosshairs as Brussels gears up for trade war with US – The Times (£)