Brexit News for Tuesday 7 November

Brexit News for Tuesday 7 November
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Government publishes Trade Bill today…

Details of the government’s post-Brexit trade policy will become clearer as it publishes proposed legislation. Ministers say their Trade Bill includes provisions for the UK to implement existing EU trade agreements and help ensure firms can still access £1.3 tn worth of foreign government contracts. It will also create a new trade remedies body to defend UK businesses against injurious trade practices. The UK cannot sign or negotiate trade deals until it leaves in March 2019. However, ministers say they can “scope” out future deals with key trade partners, such as the US, Australia and New Zealand. The trade bill, one of nine pieces of new legislation in the pipeline to prepare the ground for Brexit, will be published on Tuesday although it will not be debated by MPs until a later date. – BBC News

  • Trade Bill gives the Government power to strike up independent trade deals in preparation for a ‘no deal’ Brexit – The Sun
  • Britain readies for legal battle to protect exports to the EU in Brexit transition period – The Times (£)

> Today on BrexitCentral: UK takes step towards independent trade policy as Government presents Trade Bill

…as US Commerce Secretary backs quick UK trade deal and accuses EU of “extreme protectionism”…

[US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross] said there had already been a “joint scoping exercise” in Washington in July on a free trade agreement between America and Britain. And that another similar meeting will be held in London next week…. However, Mr Ross told me that at present the UK “inadvertently” has higher taxes on US imports than America has on the goods it buys from Britain – because it is bound by the EU system. “The EU talks a good job on free trade, but in fact it practises extreme protectionism,” he said. I asked him whether signing a bilateral deal with the UK was likely to be easier than signing an FTA with the rest of the EU. “I think it definitely would be for lots and lots of reasons. I think most people in the UK regard themselves as free traders, but they are inadvertently protectionist because they’re part of the EU,” he said. He also said that any negotiations would not “take a decade”, and that the time frame was likely to be “much shorter”. – BBC News

  • We will be your number one trading partner, top US official tells the UK – Daily Mail
  • We’ll be at the back of the queue for global trade deals – Hugo Dixon for The Times (£)

…and warns UK: don’t let EU dictate Brexit if you want a speedy US trade deal

Britain must avoid too much compromise with the EU over the Brexit divorce deal if it wants a speedy free trade deal with the US, one of President Donald Trump’s most senior advisers has said… But Mr Ross said there would be problems if the UK retained the current EU-wide bans on chlorinated chicken and genetically-modified food… He said: “The EU rules are not science-based. This could potentially create problems with us. What happens will be very much conditioned by the terms of the departure agreement between the UK and the EU.”… Mr Ross accused Brussels of imposing higher tariffs than the US across the “vast majority” of traded goods – including a 10 per cent charge on cars, compared to America’s 2.5 per cent – and trying to enforce its regulatory codes on third countries rather than allowing an open global system. “While the EU talks a lot of free-trade rhetoric, it is really quite protectionist,” he said. – Telegraph (£)

  • Top US official says Britain should scrap EU rules on food to help speed up trade deal with America – The Sun

> Shanker Singham on BrexitCentral: The world needs Britain to have its own trade policy and not align too closely to the EU’s regulatory system

Jeremy Corbyn calls on Theresa May to agree transition deal “immediately”…

Theresa May must agree a Brexit transition deal “immediately” to end uncertainty for business, Jeremy Corbyn has told the CBI’s conference. The Labour leader backed a call from the business group to get such an agreement by the end of the year… But the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said he will not discuss transition terms until the UK has settled its divorce issues, including its exit bill. Mrs May told MPs last month the UK could not “put in place the practical changes necessary to move to the future partnership” until it knows “what that future partnership is going to be”. But she used her speech to the CBI to address concerns businesses will face a “cliff edge” in March 2019. “I have made clear that a strictly time-limited implementation period will be crucial to our future success.” – BBC News

  • May and Corbyn woo business in face of Brexit warnings – FT (£)
  • Businesses will begin moving jobs across Channel by March unless Brexit transition deal reached, CBI warns May – Telegraph
  • CBI welcomes Corbyn’s ideas to promote Brexit clarity but warns his economic policies would ‘harm the poorest the most’ – Telegraph
  • How Brexit gave Jeremy Corbyn an opening with business – George Eaton for the New Statesman

…as Gordon Brown reveals how Corbyn ‘refused to share EU platform with Blair’ during referendum

Jeremy Corbyn blocked plans for a pro-EU rally attended by all living Labour leaders because he did not want to appear with Tony Blair, Gordon Brown has revealed. The former prime minister writes in his memoir that efforts to unite warring party factions in support of the Remain campaign during last year’s referendum were scuppered by Mr Corbyn. The story will anger many Labour MPs, who believe that the Labour leader did not fully commit to the cause. Mr Brown said that he had the idea for the rally after he had vetoed plans by David Cameron to have all living prime ministers appear together outside 10 Downing Street. – The Times (£)

Brexit impact studies are not what you think, David Davis warns Labour

David Davis has sought to dampen Labour’s expectations about a series of official reports on the impact of Brexit on Britain’s economy. The government had sought to keep the 58 studies secret, saying they would undermine Brexit talks. Mr Davis was effectively forced into agreeing to their publication by a Labour motion in the House of Commons. But the Brexit secretary claims there has been a misunderstanding about what they contain. In a letter to Labour MP Hilary Benn, he said the analysis ranged from “very high level overarching” work to specific examinations “of certain product lines in specific sectors”. But, he added, “it is not, nor has it ever been, a series of discrete impact assessments examining the quantitative impact of Brexit on these sectors”. – BBC News

  • READ: David Davis letter to Hilary Benn –
  • Speaker gives government until Tuesday to publish Brexit assessments – Guardian

UK warns EU over Northern Ireland meddling…

Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire challenged the EU on its own turf by telling an event in Brussels that the UK is just as committed to defending its economic interests. Addressing the European Policy Centre he pledged to secure “an outcome that works for all parts of the UK” and instead this could not mean any Northern Ireland staying in the Single Market and Customs Union. Some senior EU politicians, including the EU parliament Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, have suggested Belfast should be granted a special place inside the club to help solve the tricky border issue. But Mr Brokenshire expressed the Government’s determination that the UK will not be split up as a result of the vote to leave, saying all four of its constituent parts will leave the EU as one country. – Express

  • Ireland should quit EU to avoid mega hike in cash contributions says MEP – Express
  • Dublin calls for five-year Brexit transition period – FT (£)

…as James Brokenshire reiterates Florence commitments

Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire told reporters the UK will stick to commitments made in Theresa May’s Florence speech despite eurocrats’ fear it is beginning to backtrack. Speaking on the sidelines of an event in Brussels, Mr Brokenshire told he “positively believes” sufficient progress can be declared at next December’s EU summit triggering trade talks… During her Florence speech the PM pledged the UK will “honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership” in a bid to soothe European nerves. She also promised Britain will fulfil its obligations under the current seven-year budget cycle, which ends in 2020, so no member states “will need to pay more or receive less”. Mr Brokenshire today reiterated this commitment but in stronger language and admitted there would be a “negotiation” around the money issue ahead of next month’s crunch summit. – Express

  • Britain’s departure to coincide with epic Brussels budget war – Express

Sir John Major says Britain’s democracy is under serious threat from Cabinet ministers’ in-fighting and ’puerile’ soundbites from MPs

The former Prime Minister has issued an extraordinary broadside at today’s politicians and aides across all parties. Deceitful practices in Westminster are dangerously undermining people’s faith in the system, the ex-Tory leader has declared. In his sights for withering criticism are also “attack dog” special advisers, Tory and Labour extremists wrestling for control, and a collapse of tolerance for opposing views. Saying “I now fear” Britain’s traditional liberal attitudes, Sir John said in a speech: “Having seen our democracy at work – over many years – not all is as it could be – or should be. “When trust in our elected representatives falls, democracy fails.” … The ex-PM, who was is No10 from 1990 to 1997, heaped blame on the “anti-European Right” in the Tories and the “neo-Marxist Left” in Labour battling to win control of their parties. – The Sun

  • Brexiteers and neo-Marxists are destroying UK democracy and liberal values, claims Major – Express

NHS will suffer ‘serious damage’ if we quit the EU without a deal, claims health charity report

The Nuffield Trust report warns that a No Deal Brexit would lead to staff shortages due to a fall in EU migrants, who make up one in ten NHS workers, and would also hit crucial access to lifesaving drugs. Leaving without a deal would also threaten vital cross-border treatment in Northern Ireland. The report warned that patients would bear the brunt of a “chaotic” exit from the EU. Author Mark Dayan said: “Many different parts of EU law and EU institutions play an important role in enabling healthcare to be delivered to the standards we see today. Suddenly ending them with no replacement would do serious damage to an already strained NHS.” – The Sun

  • UK may seek closer ties with US drug regulators after Brexit – Bloomberg
  • NHS staff crisis means EU workers should get right to stay post-Brexit, says NHS Providers report – Telegraph

> Mark Tinsley on BrexitCentral: Claims of an exodus of EU NHS staff do not stand up to the NHS’s own data

German army plans for European Union’s collapse by 2040

The disintegration of the European Union by 2040 caused by the twin threats of Russian aggression and Brexit has been imagined in secret research for the German defence ministry. Decades of insecurity could cause the EU to break up, leading to multiple confrontations on the continent, according to the most pessimistic of six scenarios for Europe. The dossier, leaked to Der Spiegel, took two years to draw up and is believed to be the first time a German ministry has contemplated the break-up in such detail. – The Times (£)

  • The Germans are making contingency plans for the collapse of Europe. Let’s hope we are, too – Paul Mason for the Guardian

Brandon Lewis: Our immigration policy – taking back control with compassion

Following the British people’s vote last year, we are leaving the European Union and taking back border control. Our proposals on how to do so will be brought forward in legislation next year, followed by the advice of the independent Migration Advisory Committee which will report in Autumn 2018… As we focus on building a global Britain outside of the European Union, creating an immigration system which is both compassionate and controlled while delivering for our economy will be central to our aims. That is what we owe those who have already come here from all over the world and enriched our communities, strengthened our economy, and made our country a better place. Those coming here in the future – bringing all of their energy, dynamism and talents with them – will make us better still. – Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis MP for ConservativeHome

Tom Harris: ‘Cancelling’ Brexit wouldn’t stop it, but it would unleash political hell

Setting aside the grotesque arrogance required in order to dismiss the views of more than 17 million people, let’s consider an alternative scenario in which the government of the day chose to regard the referendum’s result as non-binding. Imagine a 52 per cent showing for the Remain camp, followed by a challenge to, and removal of David Cameron as Prime Minister. Then imagine a new premier announcing that, notwithstanding the referendum result, the government would trigger Article 50 anyway and proceed immediately with Brexit negotiations. Unimaginable? Yes, because referendums, although non-binding in a legal sense, are regarded nevertheless as morally and politically sacrosanct, which is why Cameron said repeatedly during the campaign that the government would honour the result, whatever it was. – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)

Workers: No deal is what we want

What does the EU want? They want money from us, plenty of it, because they are afraid of how they will cope with the loss of the vast British payments into their coffers… We don’t need a trade deal. We trade with the US, our largest trading partner, under World Trade Organization rules, without a trade agreement… No wonder voices here have grown saying the best deal is no deal. With the government at last talking of preparing for no deal, and a Sky poll finding 74 per cent feel no deal is better than a bad deal, the EU has become strangely conciliatory. They need a deal. We don’t. – Workers editorial, Journal of the Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

John Redwood: Tax havens in the EU – why does the BBC miss them out?

I noticed in all the BBC allegations about use of tax havens they of course made no mention of why it is that most UK collective investment fund investments are now made through Dublin or Luxembourg… It is curious how Labour and the BBC concentrate on favourable tax regimes in UK offshore centres but not in these two larger EU locations. I see nothing wrong with the approach of the Irish or Luxembourg authorities who have successfully competed with a tax and services offer which has attracted a lot of business away from London and other large centres. I do detect bias in the recent treatment of tax avoidance stories. – John Redwood’s Diary

Mark Wallace: May is right to call for rational optimism, not blind faith, about Brexit

Nobody demands that everyone should be happy about Brexit. It’s in the nature of any major decision – and particularly one decided by referendum after more than 40 years of trying to avoid the issue – that there are some who deeply dislike it. That’s fair enough. But it’s not unreasonable to ask if some of the wilder hyperbole about Brexit is really sensible or true. Some of what is said about the “destruction” of the UK, economic apocalypse, and even total isolation of the country is plainly absurd. Surely such obsessive pessimism merits challenge, for the good of sensible debate as much as the good of the nation? – Mark Wallace for ConservativeHome

Brexit in brief

  • Think global but act local to head off a post-Brexit skills crisis in England – Liam Booth-Smith for the Guardian
  • The four stages of Brexit – Sebastian Payne for the FT (£)
  • How Britain could get the migration change it wants while remaining in the Single Market – Jonathan Portes for the Telegraph (£)
  • Are business schools on the brink of a Brexit talent drain? – Jonathan Moules for the FT (£)
  • Paris and Frankfurt try to grab lucrative legal action from London – Bloomberg
  • Brexit uncertainty is jeopardising public finances, watchdog warns – Guardian
  • Silvio Berlusconi’s election triumph in Sicily puts him on comeback trail – The Times (£)