Davis wins Brexit battle against top civil servant: Brexit News for Wednesday 11 April

Davis wins Brexit battle against top civil servant: Brexit News for Wednesday 11 April
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David Davis wins latest Whitehall battle over Brexit negotiations…

David Davis is to send hundreds of civil servants to Brussels to begin negotiations on the UK’s future partnership with the EU after winning the first stage of a fraught internal battle over how to conduct the next stage of Brexit. The Brexit secretary and Oliver Robbins, Theresa May’s chief Brexit negotiator, had a “significant” disagreement last week over how much Britain could realistically agree with Brussels between now and October. This culminated in Mr Robbins delaying a letter that Mr Davis wanted to send out to select officials from across Whitehall to take part in the next phase of the negotiations. It was finally sent yesterday, although the row has worsened the already rocky relations between the two key figures running the Brexit negotiations. Mr Robbins wanted to resist a “big bang” negotiation in the coming months and was suggesting that Britain could sensibly aim for a broad, high-level document agreeing the principles for the future EU-UK relationship. This would leave much of the detail to be resolved in fresh negotiations after Brexit in March next year. – The Times (£)

  • David Davis ‘clashes with Brexit negotiating team over sealing trade deal by autumn’ – Telegraph (£)

…as Michel Barnier reportedly demands Britain signs a Brexit ‘non-regression clause’

Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, has demanded Britain signs a “non-regression clause” to guarantee it stays shackled by Brussels red tape after Brexit. Signing up to the clause would convince the EU-27 governments to support a future trade deal by reassuring them that Britain would not undercut EU standards on tax, health and the environment to poach investments, said Mr Barnier. The clause would be part of the political declaration setting the framework of the future UK-EU relationship, which will be finalised alongside the divorce agreement in October. – Telegraph (£)

  • Michel Barnier demands UK follow EU tax rates post-Brexit or face veto of trade deal – Express
  • EU wants legal assurance Britain won’t lower environmental standards after Brexit – Reuters

Labour’s Barry Gardiner now rubbishes his party’s Brexit tests

A key Labour Brexit policy has been criticised by the shadow international trade secretary, when he spoke at a think-tank in Brussels. This recording, obtained by the BBC, reveals Barry Gardiner used colourful language when speaking about the pledge to secure the exact same benefits as the single market after Brexit. – BBC News

Labour’s shadow trade secretary was under pressure last night after he dismissed  one of the party’s key Brexit policies and claimed that the Good Friday Agreement was obsolete. The party was forced to issue a statement saying that Barry Gardiner “fully  supported” Labour’s six Brexit tests after he was recorded at an event in Brussels describing one of them as “b****cks”. He was also rebuked for claiming the 1998 peace deal as a shibboleth, a Hebrew term that has come to mean a long-held custom that is outdated. Senior Labour sources said that there was a lot of anger at Mr Gardiner within the shadow cabinet but that he was so far being protected by Jeremy Corbyn. – The Times (£)

  • The latest transcript of Gardiner’s comments on Labour’s Brexit tests – The Red Roar
  • B****cks! Now Jeremy Corbyn ally ‘rubbishes’ one of Labour’s key Brexit tests – Evening Standard
  • Labour frontbencher: Labour’s Brexit tests are ‘b****cks’ – Steerpike for The Spectator
  • The nine most Barry Gardiner things that Barry Gardiner has ever done – Mark Wallace for ConservativeHome

EU hopes Brexit will help deliver India trade deal

The EU is betting that Brexit will make a trade deal with India a little easier. Chief negotiators from the EU and India will meet in Brussels on Thursday in an attempt to revive talks that stalled five years ago. No one reckons that it will be easy for the European Commission to revive dialogue with the fast-growing economy of 1.3 billion people. India has long proved to be one of the toughest nuts to crack in global trade, particularly because of its highly defensive positions on domestic champions ranging from cotton farming to generic medicines. While most of the challenges of dealing with India look set to be long-term headaches, European officials believe that Brexit will at least remove two traditional hurdles. First, Britain always wanted India to drop its sky-high tariffs on Scotch whisky. Second, Britain was deeply concerned that a more liberal visa regime — one of New Delhi’s priorities — would bring a wave of Indian workers primarily to the U.K. – Politico

Benefits of Brexit divergence ‘vastly outweighed’ by costs, claims CBI

The economic benefits for diverging from EU rules and regulations will be “vastly outweighed” by the costs of Brexit, the CBI has warned in its latest call on the Government to push for a soft Brexit. The intervention by one of the UK largest business groups puts it at loggerheads with pro-Brexit elements in the Government three months after the group called for the UK to remain in the EU customs union. In a 90-page sector-by-sector analysis of the UK economy published today, the group said its members had identified some areas, such as defence and construction procurement, where Brexit could reduce regulation, but with only marginal upside. – Telegraph (£)

The CBI’s research was requested by ministers to help officials shape the government’s negotiating priorities. The report is likely to be controversial because Brexiteers accuse the CBI of prioritising the interests of large companies who benefit from regulations making it harder for smaller competitors. The CBI denies this. – The Times (£)

  • If Britain moves away from EU rules, there will be more costs than opportunities -Carolyn Fairbairn for The Times (£)

EU gives a million more migrants the right to settle in UK in just one year

Nearly a million migrants were given EU citizenship in 2016 – and the right to settle in Britain. Figures from Eurostat showed that 101,000 Moroccans, 67,000 Albanians and 41,000 Indians were among the 995,000 who gained citizenship in one of 28 EU member states. Nearly six in ten of the Indian citizens obtained British citizenship. Nationals from Pakistan and Nigeria the other two top non-EU recipients of UK citizenship. The number granted EU citizenship soared by a fifth in the year of the Brexit referendum – up from 841,000 in 2015. It means an additional 995,000 migrants have the right to live and work in any of the 28 member states. And they’ll be free to move to the UK and register for British citizenship before Britain finally breaks free of freedom of movement rules after the Brexit transition period ends in December 2020. – The Sun

Brexit one of the saddest times in history, says Donald Tusk

Donald Tusk has described Brexit as “one of the saddest moments in 21st-century European history” and said Britain’s decision to leave the EU even made him “furious” at times. The president of the European Council was speaking in Dublin yesterday as Tony Blair described Brexit as “a profound mistake” and warned of challenging consequences for the Good Friday agreement. Both warnings came as the taoiseach and tánaiste criticised comments made by David Davis, the UK Brexit secretary, in which he suggested the Irish government was allowing Sinn Féin to influence its hardline stance on Brexit. – The Times (£)

London City Airport chief “increasingly confident” Brexit deal will be done

London City Airport chief executive Robert Sinclair is “increasingly confident” a deal with the EU will be done by 2019, as the airport launched a joint campaign with the Department for International Trade (DIT) to encourage British businesses to sell overseas. Sinclair told City A.M. that while his predecessor, Declan Collier, was “right to raise concerns early on”, he was confident a deal would be reached by March 2019, when the UK officially leaves the EU. “I share some of Declan’s concerns but I think the industry and governments on both side of the Channel are prioritising aviation and a seamless aviation market,” he said. However, he added: “March 2019 is the goal but is is still not 100 per cent clear …. the sooner there is certainty the better.” – City A.M.

The ‘Museum of Brexit’ will commemorate Britain’s historic decision to quit the EU

A new “Museum of Brexit” will commemorate Britain’s historic decision to quit the EU and go it alone. Set up by prominent Eurosceptic they want to gather campaign memorabilia from the past 40 years and tell the story of our decision to leave the bloc. Campaigners are looking for as many documents about the movement to free us from Brussels as possible – so that when historians look back at the referendum it will not be ‘told by the side who lost’. But while items like the “original Ukip fruitcake” could end up in there, they say it is a serious endeavour with an “academically scrupulous” sentiment.- The Sun

> Dr Lee Rotherham on BrexitCentral today: It’s time to preserve the story of the decades-long campaign for British independence from Brussels

Tracey Emin takes anti-Brexit stance with new St Pancras art

A giant pink light installation hung by Tracey Emin under the magnificent gothic arch of London’s St Pancras Station was intended as a monument to the romance of rail travel and the melancholy of separation, with its handwritten declaration: “I want my time with you.” But its creator added an unexpected twist to the installation’s meaning at its unveiling on Tuesday, when she said it concealed a “subliminal message” in defiance of Brexit… “I want my time with Europe,” said Ms Emin. “I’m so proud of being British but I’m also extremely proud about being part of Europe. I’m deeply saddened that within a year Britain is going to be demoted to being a tiny little island floating around in the North Sea.” – FT (£)

David Campbell Bannerman: The Good Friday Agreement has nothing to fear from Brexit

It hardly seems like two decades since the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) was signed. Much of the groundwork for it – I’d say around 70 per cent – was laid by John Major, to his great credit, and more directly by my boss, Sir (later Lord) Patrick (‘Paddy’) Mayhew, who I had the honour to serve as Special Adviser to at the Northern Ireland Office 1996-97. He was a wonderful man who strode above party politics; resolute, principled and modest enough to have no interest in taking credit for this Herculean task. He’d berate me for mentioning it now. – David Campbell Bannerman Conservative MEP for the Telegraph (£)

The Good Friday Agreement must be protected after Brexit – Times editorial (£)

> Nigel Dodds MP on BrexitCentral yesterday: 20 years on from the Belfast Agreement, Northern Ireland must accept the mandate for Brexit and respond accordingly

Daniel Hannan: Remainers don’t really care about Ireland…they just want to stop Brexit

“There is not going to be a hard, physical border across Ireland,” said the former Irish leader, Bertie Ahern, on Monday. He is right. Border posts are unnecessary and unwanted. Britain has said it won’t put them up under any circumstances. So what is all the fuss about? Ever since the vote to leave the EU, Europhiles in Ireland, in Britain and on the Continent have been shrilly insisting that Brexit will create a hard border. The only way to avoid one, they say, is for Northern Ireland — or, better, the UK as a whole — to stay inside the EU’s customs union, giving Brussels control over its external trade. This week, as we marked the 20th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement, the critics turned nasty. They accused Eurosceptics not just of being wrong, but of somehow jeopardising the peace. The Belfast Agreement is no longer remembered as a necessarily imperfect compromise designed to get former terrorists around a table together. It has taken on a semi-religious status, to the extent that supporters get angry if you don’t call it the Good Friday Agreement. – Daniel Hannan MEP for The Sun

  • Bertie Ahern, the former Irish Taioseach, dismisses the ramp about a hard border on the island of Ireland – Conservative Home

Christian May: The UK must set its own rules after Brexit

Far from gearing up for a regulatory bonfire, the government is busy implementing EU law as fast as Brussels can produce it. Research by Thomson Reuters Legal Business reveals that the UK has introduced a total of 707 new laws that originated from Brussels since the EU referendum last June. These are added to around 20,000 existing EU laws that the government will need to review as part of the departure process. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, yesterday demanded that the UK signs up to a “non-regression clause” as part of its terms of exit, effectively shackling us to EU regulations on specific areas including taxation. This would be entirely unacceptable and should be dismissed by the UK as an unworkable proposal. – Christian May for City A.M.

  • EU wants legal assurance Britain won’t lower environmental standards after Brexit – Reuters

Briefings for Brexit: Gibraltar and the EU – lessons from an unprincipled approach

The EU is being inconsistent in insisting on inflexible principles for the transition period and for the Irish border while flouting those principles in the case of Gibraltar. In the case of Gibraltar the EU supports right to close the border, while in Ireland it insists on the border remaining open. – Briefings for Brexit

Comment in Brief

  • Telling it like it is to Lord Adonis on Brexit – John Redwood for the Commentator
  • We were all once ruled by Rome – but we still can’t decide if we’re Boudica or Britannicus – Daisy Dunn for the Telegraph (£)
  • How dare David Davis blame Sinn Fein for the Irish border mess – Alex Massie for the Spectator

News in Brief

  • Dublin could be a big winner from Brexit – The Times (£)
  • Ben Houchen explains why Teesside will show how Britain can thrive after Brexit – ConservativeHome
  • EU Commission considers EU-wide system to prevent illegal car scrapping – Politico

And finally… Brexit and North Korea are driving up fondue sales, claims Oxford professor

Fondue, the cheesy 1970s dinner party staple has seen a remarkable revival in recent years with John Lewis and Lakeland reporting a huge upsurge in kit sales in recent months. Waitrose also recently announced that online hits for its recipe for the classic Swiss meal – which often features a mix of gruyere, emmental, comte, appenzeller or cheddar – had soared by one third. However Professor Charles Spence, from the University of Oxford, said the trend was surprising given that the dish was not healthy, nor photogenic enough to be receiving an Instagram boost. Instead he believes Brexit and North Korea could be responsible, with global insecurity, the threat of nuclear war and the Swiss origins of fondue all combining to increase the dish’s popularity. – Telegraph (£)