Brexit News for Wednesday 26 July

Brexit News for Wednesday 26 July
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Donald Trump attacks ‘protectionist’ EU and says he wants ‘big and exciting’ trade deal with UK…

Donald Trump has said that the US will sign a “big and exciting” trade deal with the UK as he criticised the European Union for being protectionist. The US president said that he is working on a “major trade deal” with the UK which will create jobs while criticising the European Union.It came just hours after he hailed a “new chapter for stronger trade” with Britain amid concerns about the import of chlorine-washed chickens in the UK after Brexit. Theresa May is facing a Cabinet split over the import of poultry treated with the chlorine wash process from the US, which is currently banned under EU rules but a fifth cheaper than British chicken. – Telegraph (£)

Never one to undersell something, Donald Trump has loudly (aka in block capitals) hinted that the UK and US are poised to sign a major trade deal. In the manner of an enthusiastic, but slightly rushed, telegram officer… discussions were expected to focus on “providing certainty, continuity and increasing confidence for UK and US businesses” but not to actually strike a deal. As the government itself noted, the UK cannot conclude a free trade agreement ahead of leaving the EU, which is not expected to happen until 2019 at the earliest.. – City A.M.

There is a particular issue for some groups in the UK about how this might affect the National Health Service. It came up in the context of the TTIP negotiations. The issue was partly whether the agreement might force the British government to privatise health service provision – and also about whether the agreement would make it hard or impossible to reverse any privatisation that did occur. The issue was that reversing such a move could deprive a foreign health company of business, which campaigners argued could enable it to use the ISDS tribunal system to seek compensation from the host (British) government. – BBC

  • Brussels hits back after Trump brands EU ‘protectionist’ – Express
  • Chief hospital inspector warns of threat to NHS jobs – Evening Standard
  • Third of Britons want May to prioritise trade deal with US after leaving EU – Express
  • Liam Fox’s Brexit optimism is matched by President Trump’s – Katy Balls for the Spectator
  • US free trade deal is looking more likely by the day – Stephen Pollard for the Express
  • America’s enthusiasm for a free trade deal should give Britain reason for optimism – Telegraph editorial (£)

…as Johnson, Davis and Fox push the Brexit agenda on three continents

Senior cabinet ministers will push the UK’s Brexit agenda on three different continents later. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox will travel from the US to meet Mexican counterparts to discuss trading relationships. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is on a two-day tour of Australia, saying post-Brexit trade is “top of the agenda”. And Brexit Secretary David Davis will hold private talks in Germany ahead of the next round of negotiations. The globetrotting by the three ministers – dubbed the “three Brexiteers” for their role in backing a Leave vote – comes amid increased scrutiny of the opportunities and challenges facing Britain in terms of negotiating free trade agreements with other countries once it leaves the EU. – BBC

  • David Davis to meet Bavaria’s Horst Seehofer – Politico

Mr Johnson, 53, flew in from New Zealand where he had suggested the traditional Maori greeting of rubbing noses could be misinterpreted in other countries as a headbutt. In town for the annual UK and Australian Foreign and Defence Ministers (AUKMIN) talks, the Foreign Secretary described Sydney as “an unbelievable, mind-blowingly beautiful city”. Mr Johnson and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will hold bilateral talks before they are joined by Britain’s Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Australia’s Defence Minister Marise Payne tomorrow. – Sydney Telegraph

  • Boris Johnson continues charm offensive as he bonds with lizard in New Zealand – Telegraph

Triple boost for Brexit Britain as electric Mini is to be built in Oxford…

Britain’s car industry has been given a “vote of confidence” by BMW, the Government said after the German automotive giant announced it will build an all-electric version of the Mini in the UK. BMW said from 2019 a fully electric “Mini E” will roll off the production lines at its Oxford plant which is the historic home of the iconic car, easing concerns about the impact of Brexit. The news guarantees the future of the 4,500 staff at plant, who currently build the bulk of the 360,000 Minis of all models produced annually. Telegraph

…as Amazon announces a major London expansion…

Amazon plans to massively expand the number of people it employs in research and development across London – a powerful endorsement of the capital’s booming tech sector despite the economy being steeped in uncertainty ahead of Britain’s departure from the EU. The Seattle-based e-retail behemoth, which on Tuesday opened its new London office, said that it would be doubling the capacity of its development centre in the city from 450 to 900 and that it plans to occupy all 15 floors of a new 600,000sq ft building in Shoreditch, east London. – Independent

…and EasyJet plans to hire more than 1,000 cabin crew

EasyJet has announced the largest cabin crew intake in its 21-year history, with plans to hire more than 1,000 staff. More than 1,200 men and women will be given permanent and fixed-term positions at the budget airline. This will increase its total number of cabin crew to 8,100. Earlier this year, the Luton-based carrier revealed that it was recruiting more than 450 pilots and providing opportunities for its first officers to be promoted to captaincy roles. Tina Milton, easyJet’s head of cabin service, said: “We’re delighted to be opening recruitment for more than 1,200 cabin crew positions today.” – Guardian

Stock market reached record highs this year…

The FTSE 100, 250 and All-Share indices have all made strong gains and reached record highs in the first half of 2017. The strong performance of London-listed shares is somewhat surprising given the backdrop – June’s snap general election arguably left the government in a weaker position going into Brexit negotiations, while household finances are being squeezed by higher inflation. There also renewed fears of higher interest rates in 2018. But the international nature of the UK stockmarket means global factors have imposed a greater influence. – City A.M.

  • Hot weather and inflation give supermarket sector summer boost. – City A.M.

…as UK factories increased production to 22-year-high

Factories are increasing production at the fastest rate in 22 years, according to a closely watched survey that suggests manufacturing may provide a boost for the economy as the dominant services sector begins to slow. A CBI survey showed manufacturers were recording the highest growth in output since the mid-1990s, especially among food and drink manufacturers, prompting the strongest hiring spree in three years. The pound immediately rose on the news, hitting $1.3084 against the US dollar, before easing back slightly to $1.3033, but this was less than a cent away from last week’s high of $1.- The Times (£)

Davis says UK’s ‘trustworthy’ courts should protect rights of EU citizens

Britain’s “trustworthy” courts should protect the rights of European Union citizens living in the UK after Brexit, David Davis has insisted.   The Brexit Secretary rejected calls for the rights of 3 million EU citizens living in Britain to be overseen by the European Court of Justice. Speaking in Prague after talks with the Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek, he said that the EU “moral imperative” to reach a quick deal. Questioned on whether the UK Government was willing to compromise over the role of the European Court of Justice, he said: “We are intent that this should be put in an act in of parliament enforced by British courts … and most importantly backed up by a treaty.” – Telegraph (£)

  • UK and EU still split on citizens’ rights – BBC
> Yesterday on BrexitCentral’s YouTube channel: David Davis says an act of parliament and a treaty will safeguard the rights of EU citizens


Liam Fox vows not to reduce food standards amid chlorine chicken row

The International Trade Secretary also vowed to make the “right decisions for the UK” as he visited Washington to discuss Britain’s future relationship with the US. Speaking on BBC Newsnight, he was questioned over whether a trade agreement between the two nations would lead Britain to lower or change its standards on food. Dr Fox said: “I can rule out that we will be dropping our standards on consumer protection or environmental protection or on animal welfare. “These are all perfectly reasonable things for people to look at. – Express

  • Brussels attacks Liam Fox’s ‘ignorant’ remarks on chlorinated chicken Guardian

Tory MPs call for action to avert post-Brexit ports gridlock

A prominent group of Conservative MPs have called on cabinet ministers to accelerate the preparation of Britain’s ports for Brexit in order to prevent “gridlock” for the British economy. A report endorsed by the European Research Group of Tory backbenchers says urgent action is needed to improve customs checks, widen roads, speed up infrastructure projects and produce lorry parks. It also calls for an expanded treaty with France to cover customs and a single government ministry to cover all issues relating to the border. The document, entitled Ready on Day One, suggests there is a real possibility that no deal will be achieved with the EU27 by the spring of 2019, and says Theresa May’s government needs to prepare for that potential outcome. – Guardian

  • Tory MPs publish plan to make UK trade ‘frontline’ Brexit-ready – Politico

Fight to keep Britain in single market, unions urge Corbyn…

Trade unions are heaping pressure on the Labour leadership to reverse the party’s commitment to leave the single market after Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn toughened his rhetoric on the issue at the weekend, making clear that his party would take Britain out of the single market because it was “dependent on EU membership”, but would seek tariff-free access to the single market. The statement went further than the Labour manifesto, which did not make a commitment to leaving or staying in the single market.- The Times (£)

…as Barry Gardiner’s exposition of Labour’s Brexit stance comes under fire from colleagues…

In a further sign of Labour’s splits over Europe, former Shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander accused Mr Gardiner of taking his arguments “straight out of Tory Central Office”.The Shadow International Trade Secretary said at the weekend that staying in the customs union after leaving the EU would be a “disaster” for Britain. He has subsequently been slapped down by Jeremy Corbyn, with a spokesman for the Labour leader saying it was wrong to “sweep options off the table”. Labour sources have told PoliticsHome that Mr Gardiner’s comments had caused “consternation” among the party’s MPs. – PoliticsHome

  • Labour position on Brexit could change ‘if public opinion shifts’, says Corbyn campaign chief – PoliticsHome
  • The fallacy of Labour’s hard stand on Brexit – FT editorial (£)
  • Would Barry Gardiner eat an American chlorine-washed chicken? – Paul Goodman for ConservativeHome
> Jonathan Isaby on BrexitCentral yesterday: Labour’s leadership clarify beyond any doubt that Brexit means a clean break from the Customs Union and Single Market


…and Sir Keir Starmer is forced to turn down job at Article 50 law firm

The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, has turned down a paid advisory role with the law firm that took the government to court over article 50, after criticism of the potential conflict of interest. Mishcon de Reya said on Monday that it was in talks with Starmer, who was director of public prosecutions before he entered parliament, about a position… When the news emerged, the Conservative MP James Cleverly wrote to Starmer asking him to explain the role and whether it could involve any conflicts of interest. – Guardian

War of tweets as Verhofstadt claims UK ‘jeopardising’ Brexit talks…

MEPs have accused Britain of jeopardising a Brexit deal, saying it will be impossible to meet an October deadline unless London gives in on money and citizens’ rights. “If we want negotiations to succeed within the limited time we have, progress on more detailed content will have to be made sooner rather than later,” said Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator, in a joint statement with colleagues yesterday. He was more candid on Twitter, accusing the UK side of “jeopardising” the talks.- The Times (£)

  • Verhofstadt says MEPs will do their own assessment of ‘sufficient progress – Politico

…and EU’s deputy chief negotiator tweets that Britain has few friends

The EU’s deputy chief Brexit negotiator Sabine Weyand has given a hint of just how badly David Davis and co are perceived on Brussels’ side of the table yesterday morning, tweeting a link to a pretty damning article. So far, the UK’s approach in the talks has “burned many bridges and there are precious few allies and friends left”, the article, by think tank European Policy Centre claims. “The longer this approach prevails, the harder will it be to turn the situation around.” At this stage, a viable deal will be possible “only if the UK is willing to make significant concessions,” author Fabian Zuleeg writes. – City A.M.

Brits can stay working for the Commission if no conflict of interest

Brits working in the European Commission can remain on the payroll after Brexit but could be moved to lesser roles to avoid conflicts of interest, according to Günther Oettinger, the European commissioner for the budget and human resources. Speaking to reporters in Brussels Tuesday, Oettinger tried to reassure the more than 1,000 British staffers in the Commission he will not ask for their resignations after March 2019, but warned that they may not be able to stay in their current roles. – Politico

Nigel Farage: The great Brexit betrayal has begun. The Tories have sold out the British people – now even Jeremy Corbyn has a tougher stance

When I heard that the government minister Lord Prior had told a meeting of tech and insurance leaders last week that they shouldn’t worry about barriers to entry for future employees from the EU, I thought he’d gone too far. How could a Brexit administration elected on a promise of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands tolerate such behaviour? Surely Lord Prior would be sacked? Instead, it got worse. A new Cabinet consensus around transitional arrangements has been unveiled. Under it, open borders will be maintained for a minimum of two years after we finally leave the EU in 2019. Britain will have to wait until at least 2021 – five years after the Brexit referendum – to take back control.  Millions who voted Leave will feel cheated, and rightly so: it’s clear the great Brexit betrayal has begun. – Nigel Farage MEP for the Telegraph (£)

The Times: Britain may not want the quick trade deal it could get with America

Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, was no doubt hoping that the defining image of his visit to Washington this week would be an amiable handshake with his US counterpart. Instead it was raw poultry dunked in an antiseptic bath. American chickens are routinely washed in chlorine. Thanks to EU rules, that keeps them out of the British market. If the UK wants a quick and easy trade deal with the Americans after Brexit, it will probably have to abandon that standard. It will also have to tear up reams of other rules, undermining its own interests and hopes of a trade deal with the EU. –  The Times (£) editorial

Clive Aslet: Gove must think big to reshape rural Britain

The thatched farmhouse I’m writing this from couldn’t be more traditional. Sitting on a hill surrounded by a moat, it commands a 360-degree view of the fields and woods of Suffolk. Despite appearances, though, it’s part of a quiet revolution in the countryside as farmers and landowners come to terms with life after Brexit. The farmhouse is one property in the Wilderness Reserve, an estate of more than 5,000 acres, in which a host of cottages, lodges, barns and manor houses makes the money, not the land itself. – Clive Aslet for The Times (£)

Anthony Howe: Brexit – the lessons from history

As Britain prepares to enter what have been widely described as the most complex negotiations in recent history, politicians and civil servants dealing with Brexit can look to the 19th century for inspiration when it comes to securing the best trade deal for the country. Britain went through a similar process of reshaping its relationship with the world when it repealed the controversial Corn Laws and embraced the idea of free trade in 1846. It’s a comparison that pro-Brexit economists have been eager to make, as it greatly benefited the UK economy at the time. – Anthony Howe for CapX

George Friedman: The EU – Authoritarianism through complexity

The British team consists of well-educated and experienced civil servants. In claiming that this team is not up to the task of understanding the complexities of EU processes and regulations, the EU has made the strongest case possible against itself. If these people can’t readily grasp the principles binding Britain to the EU, then how can mere citizens understand them? And if the principles are beyond the grasp of the public, how can the public trust the institutions? We are not dealing here with the complex rules that allow France to violate rules on deficits but on the fundamental principles of the European Union and the rights and obligations – political, economic and moral – of citizens. If the EU operating system is too complex to be grasped by British negotiators, then who can grasp it? – George Friedman for Geopolitical Futures

Eric D. Dixon: Brexit Uncertainties and the fight for Free Trade

Of course, there are endless perspectives on whether Brexit was a good idea in the first place, even among free trade enthusiasts who typically see eye to eye. While the media covers the big political stories, the important question for free trade advocates is how do we stay focused on a post-Brexit strategy that stands the best chance of ushering in a new era of increased free trade where everybody wins. – Eric D. Dixon for the Atlas Network

Brexit comment in brief

  • Why we must leave the Customs Union – Alexander Fiuza  for Reaction
  • EU supporters ignore the cost of external tariffs – Express editorial
  • Why supporting free trade and controlled migration is not a contradiction in terms – Alex Morton for ConservativeHome
  • Stopping Brexit would mean ending the rebate and joining the euro – George Eaton for the New Statesman
  • Free trade may be Britain’s post-Brexit destiny, but it’s not an easy option – Jeremy Warner for the Telegraph (£)
  • 9 reasons why (some) Brits hate Europe’s highest court – Annabelle Dickson And Quentin Ariès for Politico
  • The dishonest Germans – Paul Taylor for Politico
  • Brussels will soon need a Brexit reality check if it hopes for a deal – Asa Bennett for the Telegraph (£)
  • I’m a Leaver who would be happy for a second referendum – Ed West for the Spectator
  • London business is certain: We should stay in the Single Market – Rajesh Agrawal for City A.M.
  • Chlorinated chicken? Yes, we really can have too much trade – George Monbiot for the Guardian

Brexit news in brief

  • Juncker aims to slam the brakes on Chinese takeovers – Politico
  • Millions overcharged for German cars – The Times (£)
  • Ryanair warns Brexit will ground flights and cancel holidays unless EU ‘open skies’ deal is struckDaily Mirror
  • Turkey and the EU still miles apart on membership Politico
  • Polish president signs off on controversial new laws – The Times (£)