Brexit Britain booming as a record number of Britons now in work and more foreigners have jobs than before the referendum: Brexit News for Wednesday 16 May

Brexit Britain booming as a record number of Britons now in work and more foreigners have jobs than before the referendum: Brexit News for Wednesday 16 May
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Brexit Britain booming as a record number of Britons now in work and more foreigners have jobs than before the referendum…

More Britons are in work than ever despite predictions of huge job losses in the event of a vote for Brexit. Official figures released yesterday showed that employment is at a record high, with more than 2,000 people finding work every day. The workforce has grown to 32.34million – the highest level since records began in 1971, according to the Office for National Statistics. The total has risen by 609,000 since the referendum of June 2016. Before the vote George Osborne claimed up to 820,000 jobs could be lost within two years if Britain chose to leave. ‘These figures just show how ridiculous and discredited Project Fear is,’ said pro-Brexit Tory MP Andrew Bridgen. ‘Britain has nothing to fear from taking back control of its money, its borders and its laws.’ Sir Bill Cash, a fellow Conservative MP, said the figures showed Brexit was ‘a great opportunity’ that was being put at risk by diehard Remainers. – Daily Mail

  • As IMF says high unemployment threatening EU economic recovery – Telegraph

…as basic pay rises in UK, easing cost-of-living squeeze

Official figures show that the cost-of-living squeeze that many in Britain have experienced since the country voted to leave the European Union in 2016 has eased. The Office for National Statistics said Tuesday that average earnings for workers, excluding bonuses, were up 2.9 percent in the first three months of the year from the same period the year before. That’s up from 2.8 percent in the November-to-February period and takes wage rises further ahead of the annual inflation rate, which fell to 2.5 percent in March. The broad thrust of Tuesday’s report is positive for the British economy. – Business Insider

Theresa May urged to make swift decision on customs as Cabinet again fails to make progress…

Theresa May has been urged to make a swift decision over Britain’s customs relationship with the EU as she promised clarity in time for a key meeting in Brussels next month. Tory Eurosceptics expressed renewed frustration on Tuesday as the Brexit “war Cabinet” failed once again to agree a position on what should replace the customs union. They fear that further delays will play into the hands of the EU by making it more likely that Britain will end up staying in the customs union. Downing Street responded by announcing that the Government will publish a white paper next month billed as the most detailed document on Brexit since the 2016 EU referendum. – Telegraph (£)

  • Michel Barnier mocks Theresa May over Cabinet customs row as PM’s hopes of breaking Brexit deadlock stall – Telegraph
    May’s customs partnership could be illegal, ministers warn – Times (£)  
  • Theresa May’s Brexit fudge will have the whole country singing – Lord Saatchi for the Telegraph (£)
  • Theresa May is trying to stay afloat on Brexit, but she keeps finding herself in a hole – Richard Rose for the Telegraph (£)

…as Labour prepare to stage Commons Brexit ambush to force publication of internal government papers on customs options

Labour is to stage a Commons ambush in a bid to force the Government to publish secret papers on its plans for a customs deal with Brussels after Brexit. The move comes as Theresa May’s Brexit war Cabinet once again failed to reach an agreement on what type of trading arrangement they want with the EU in the future. The 11-strong group of senior ministers met for around an hour and a half in the Commons, and heard presentations from David Lidington and David Davis on the two options under consideration, a customs partnership and so-called “maximum facilitation”. – PoliticsHome

  • Boris Johnson took a dig at the Labour party’s “absolutely clouded” stance on British membership of the European Union’s customs union as he exchanged barbs with frontbencher Emily Thornberry – Express
  • Clock is ticking for Theresa May as customs row drags on – Guardian editorial

Lords seek to defeat May one last time on key Brexit Bill

The upper house of the U.K. Parliament will seek to inflict a final defeat on Prime Minister Theresa May over her flagship piece of Brexit legislation on Wednesday. The latest blow would come with an amendment to maintain European Union environmental standards after Britain’s departure. The Lords have already defeated the government on 14 previous amendments and the opposition Labour Party foresees another bruising on this one. The unelected Lords have complicated May’s Brexit strategy by approving amendments pushing for her to keep Britain in the EU’s customs union and in the European Economic Area, crossing negotiating red lines set by the premier. While the elected House of Commons can overturn them, it’s by no means certain that all changes will be struck down. – Bloomberg

  • Lords Brexit defeats are forcing MPs to face crucial choices – Meg Russell for Reaction
  • May must get tough with Lords to stop the Brexit meddling – Times editorial (£)

Theresa May to publish a 100-page dossier setting out her Brexit vision in detail in a bid to kick-start flagging trade talks…

Theresa May will publish a 100-page dossier setting out the Government’s Brexit vision in detail next month in a bid to kick-start flagging trade talks. The White Paper will be the biggest Government statement on Brexit since the 2016 referendum, setting out plans on everything from trade, transport and fishing to data protection and security co-operation. The decision to press ahead with the document represents a victory for David Davis, who has been arguing for months that the UK needs to get on the front foot over Brexit. – Daily Mail

…as legendary rocker Mick Jagger calls on Theresa May’s feuding top table to come to ‘a fast resolution’

Theresa May last night hit back at a Brexit tongue-lashing from Mick Jagger to pledge a major new blueprint for a deal with the EU. The PM confirmed a full legal text is being drawn up for Britain’s vision for a future relationship with Brussels in a bid to steal a march on EU negotiators. The move came after angry Rolling Stones frontman demanded decisions from the dithering Cabinet yesterday. Leave backer Sir Mick insisted he was speaking for the nation when he called on the PM and her feuding top table to come to “a fast resolution”. Making another foray into politics, the 74 year-old singer told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “I think we’re going through a particularly difficult moment. The current government seems to have a hard time navigating through it.” – The Sun

  • We couldn’t agree more with Mick Jagger – it’s vital the Government makes up its mind on Brexit now – The Sun says

Scottish Parliament rejects crucial Brexit legislation, sparking fears of a constitutional crisis…

The Scottish Parliament today voted down crucial Brexit-related legislation – sparking fears of a constitutional crisis. MSPs at Holyrood have formally refused to grant consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill by 93 votes to 30. It is the first time the devolved Parliament has withdrawn its stamp of approval for legislation coming from Westminster. – Daily Mail

  • Sturgeon accused of starting constitutional crisis over rejected EU Bill – Express
  • SNP Brexit spokesman Mike Russell: There is no such thing as a single market in the UK – Herald
  • A new department for the Union could boost all of Britain – Times editorial (£)
  • Sturgeon’s popularity is declining, and with it hopes of a second independence referendum – Daniel Sanderson for the Times (£)
  • Everything is about independence in Scotland, so UK ministers should ensure Holyrood gets its powers – Tom Harris for the Telegraph (£)
  • Scotland and Brexit – what happens next? – Sarah Smith for BBC News

…as Welsh AMs give the Brexit Bill the thumbs-up

AMS have given the UK Government the go-ahead to pass its Brexit Bill – despite concerns it will result in a loss of devolved power. When the EU Withdrawal Bill was first presented last year Welsh ministers claimed it would result in powers over devolved areas such as farming returning to Westminster rather than Cardiff when the UK leaves Europe next year. But last month the two governments had come to an agreement, which will result in the UK Government holding onto devolved powers currently held by the European Union for up to seven years while new UK-wide frameworks are put in place. And this evening the Assembly voted 46 to nine to pass a Legislative Consent Motion (LCM), which gives Westminster consent to pass the bill. – South Wales Argus

Negotiations threatened to hit a deadlock after Spain demanded a presence in Gibraltar after Brexit

Madrid has sparked outrage by demanding Spanish border guards be stationed inside Gibraltar airport after Brexit. Negotiations about the Rock threatened to hit a new deadlock. The Spanish demanded to have their Guardia Civil inside the UK territory. Brit negotiators have always insisted the Rock is not on the table in any way during exit talks. Tory MEP Ashley Fox said: “Allowing Spanish law enforcement agencies to exercise control on British territory would be tantamount to a concession on sovereignty.” – The Sun

Bernard Ingham: Brexit – and why claims of Remainers are tantamount to fraud

While the Government this week seeks an antidote to EU customs union blackmail over the Irish border and David Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nicky Morgan renew the Remainers’ attack on Brexit, let us examine the great 50-year European fraud. I am not specifically referring to Ted Heath’s claim that EU membership would bring no loss of UK sovereignty. Tell that to British fishermen. Nor am I thinking of the risible notion that the EU would improve our economic performance. Only Margaret Thatcher’s refusal to bow the knee to the union barons eventually removed the constant threat of economic damage from strikes and liberated enterprise from the class war. – Bernard Ingham for the Yorkshire Post

Madeline Grant: NUS politicians do not speak for ‘one million students’ on Brexit

What about the much-overlooked 27 per cent of young people who voted Leave? They must be one of the least talked-about political groups in Britain today. Are they part of the “NUS Million”? Putting that cohort to one side, it doesn’t follow that having voted Remain in 2016 means you automatically favour a second referendum in 2018. Here, the NUS presumes to speak for each and every student who happens to attend one of the the 600 universities whose students they represent — quite a bold claim for a body whose elections rarely attract more than a 20 per cent turnout. – Madeline Grant for CapX

Asa Bennett: Theresa May promised Global Britain, and now Brexiteers want her to deliver

Theresa May is sitting down with her cabinet colleagues again this afternoon in the hope of getting some clarity over the post-Brexit customs arrangements British officials should pursue with the European Union. The potential for progress is going to be limited, given that ministers had not got very far last night in their attempts to improve and refine the existing proposals. Stagnation would be representative of the state of play for the wider Brexit talks, with Michel Barnier declaring “little” progress has been made since March and that there was a “risk of failure” due to areas like the Irish border question. – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)

Brian Monteith: David Miliband is delusional if he thinks he can block Brexit

In case you have forgotten who David Miliband is, let me help: there is a photo of the former foreign secretary holding a banana. It captured in one surreal image everything you need to know about him and why you should not listen to a word he says. No intelligent or self-respecting politician would be caught by photographers holding a banana in public view, never mind posing with one. It opened him up to ridicule, rude jokes, and summed up his poor judgement. – Brian Monteith for City A.M.

  • We don’t need a new centre party – we need a leader who can work with others well on Brexit – Philip Johnston for the Telegraph (£)

Nick Boles: For a Brexit that works, we must stay in the Customs Union until early in 2022

A Brexit that works: it’s not much of a rallying cry, I admit. But it’s what the British people need and what the overwhelming majority of Conservative MPs want to achieve. Although there are a few zealots on both sides of the debate, most people in the parliamentary party are pragmatists. We want to deliver the referendum result without damaging business confidence, the unity of the United Kingdom or peace on the island of Ireland. Because we are not seduced by dreams of a Brave New World, we are cautious about giving up current advantages for the untried and untested. But we also know that just because something hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done in future, and are optimistic that time, imagination and a spirit of constructive collaboration with our European partners should enable us to develop and implement modern systems that work. – Nick Boles MP for ConservativeHome

Brexit in brief

  • How “special” will the UK-EU security partnership really be? – Aarti Shankar for Open Europe
  • Brexit Britain has a lot to learn from China – Liz McAreavey, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, for the Scotsman
  • Why the future of Northern Ireland is crucial to Brexit negotiations – Times (£)
  • Leavers prepare their Brexit betrayal narrative – Janan Ganesh for the Irish Times
  • The role of the House of Lords – John Redwood’s Diary
  • Letters: The EU attempts to foist responsibility for its own borders on Britain – Telegraph (£)
  • Britain really is losing the plot in its obsession with the EU customs union – Jeremy Warner for the Telegraph (£)
  • It’s not racist to be concerned about a weak immigration policy – Peter Hill for the Express
  • Brexit ‘will help disadvantaged Scots get to university’ – Times (£)
  • US threatens sanctions against European Union after trade body rules Boeing harmed by Airbus aid – Telegraph
  • Why the Midlands is still Brexit Central – BBC News