Brexit News for Friday 17 March

Brexit News for Friday 17 March

Queen gives Royal Assent to Article 50 Bill

The Queen has signed the Article 50 Bill into law, clearing the way for Theresa May to formally start talks to leave the European Union. The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill was passed by MPs and peers on Monday. It is now open to the Prime Minister to notify Brussels that the UK is leaving the EU, starting the two-year countdown to Brexit. David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, said: “The Queen has today given Royal Assent to the Article 50 Bill, giving the Government the formal power to trigger Article 50 and deliver on the will of the British people. “By the end of the month we will invoke Article 50, allowing us to start our negotiations to build a positive new partnership with our friends and neighbours in the European Union, as well as taking a step out into the world as a truly Global Britain.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Heseltine to Theresa May: There was no need to sack me – BBC

Brexit negotiations may not start until June, EU diplomats suggest

Negotiations between Britain and the EU are unlikely to start until June now that Theresa May intends to trigger article 50 at the end of March, senior European diplomats have disclosed. The delay would eat into the two-year negotiation window for Britain to reach a deal with the EU or crash out on WTO terms, which include tariffs on UK imports to the continent. Leaders of the remaining 27 states had initially planned to offer a substantial response to the article 50 notification at a European council summit on 6 April. But as a result of the UK’s decision they have ruled that out. The news came as the European council president, Donald Tusk, warned the UK against making no-deal Brexit threats, insisting: “They simply will not work.” – The Guardian

Ex-WTO chief and former European Commissioner Pascal Lamy claims leaving the EU with no deal would be “extremely bad” for both parties

This outcome would “by definition” be worse than any kind of agreement, said Pascal Lamy, likening the Brexit process to “removing an egg from an omelette”. The UK government will shortly trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, kick-starting the two-year window for negotiations before the UK leaves automatically. The UK wants to negotiate a trade deal in parallel to the Article 50 exit deal, but EU representatives have indicated that the divorce agreement must come first.Prime Minister Theresa May has said leaving with no trade deal would be better than signing up to a bad one. – BBC

Former WTO chief brands Boris Johnson a ‘nasty young kid’ – The Independent

Theresa May formally rejects Nicola Sturgeon’s timetable for a second Scottish independence referendum

The Prime Minister ruled out Ms Sturgeon’s demand for another vote between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, saying that it would be “unfair” on Scots to vote then as it would be too early to pass judgement on Brexit. However, she did not rule out a second referendum indefinitely. She accused the SNP of jeopardising the UK’s negotiations with the EU with talk of a second referendum and said “working together” was the best chance for Scotland and for the rest of the UK to get the best deal in the wake of the Brexit vote. – Daily Telegraph

  • Would Spain block Scottish membership of EU? – The Guardian
  • May is right to reject another Scottish independence referendum before Brexit – Harry Phibbs for ConHome

Toyota to invest £240m in UK plant at Burnaston

Toyota is to invest £240m in upgrading its UK factory that makes the Auris and Avensis models.
The Japanese carmaker’s investment in the Burnaston plant near Derby will allow production of vehicles using its new global manufacturing system.The factory employs about 2,500 people, while another 590 work at Toyota’s engine plant at Deeside, North Wales.Burnaston made about 180,000 vehicles last year, most of which are exported to Europe and other markets. Johan van Zyl, chief executive of Toyota Motor Europe, said the investment showed that the company was doing all it could to make Burnaston more competitive. However, he warned: “Continued tariff-and-barrier free market access between the UK and Europe that is predictable and uncomplicated will be vital for future success.” Industry trade body the SMMT said in January that uncertainty around Brexit and the UK’s future trading arrangements had hit investment in the car sector. – BBC

  • Toyota invests quarter of a billion in UK – Guido Fawkes
  • Brexit will drive Britain’s carmaking revival further – Allister Heath for the Daily Telegraph

EU leaders overjoyed at Dutch election — but coalition will take months

EU leaders are celebrating the victory of Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, over Geert Wilders as a major triumph against populism in the wake of Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Mr Rutte took credit for helping to stymie the rise of the far right. The victory of the centrist right came at a cost — Mr Rutte lost 20 per cent of his seats — but his right-wing VVD party took 33 seats. Mr Wilders’ PVV Freedom Party won 20 seats. “The Netherlands, after Brexit, after the American elections, said ‘whoa’ to the wrong kind of populism,” Mr Rutte said in the early hours of this morning. – The Times (£)

Matthew Elliott’s initial analysis of the Dutch election result for the Legatum Institute

Tim Farron: Business pressure may help soften Theresa May’s Brexit approach

The Liberal Democrat leader launched an appeal to corporate Britain, urging business leaders to drop the Tories and switch support to his party in an effort to protect single market membership. Accusing the Prime Minister of “twisting” the will of the British people by backing a hard Brexit, Mr Farron told business donors: “If you are giving the Tories so much as a penny you are funding your own funeral.” The Lib Dems received more in donations than Labour in the final three months of 2016, and Mr Farron is now aiming at the Tories, arguing that supporters should switch now, before Brexit talks get under way. He told the Press Association: “Everybody in business knows that leaving the single market will be massively damaging to our economy, to individual firms, to families and to the Chancellor’s own revenues. – News & Star

  • History will be kind to ‘principled’ Nick Clegg, says Tim Farron – Daily Express

Germany admits London should stay as European financial capital after Brexit

Paris, Dublin and Frankfurt have all tried to coax banks into leaving the City of London in a bid to grab financial power from Brexit Britain. But finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said Europe would be strengthened by getting behind the City despite the UK separating itself from the bloc. Mr Schaeuble said: “I am not sure whether it would be very beloved in Paris to say so, but we have our own interest, even after Brexit, to have a strong financial centre in London. “We can’t move the whole business to Europe and it’s better to have it in London than in Singapore or elsewhere in the world.” Mr Schaeuble, Merkel’s right hand man in German politics, has been pushing for Europe to look more favourably on Britain after the referendum despite admitting he “cried” when he heard the results.- Daily Express

Remainer spending spree leaves economists baffled

People who voted to remain in the European Union have defied conventional wisdom and gone on more of a spending spree since the referendum than those who elected to leave. The counterintuitive behaviour was revealed in a survey which found that overall British consumers were still spending robustly and showed little sign of stopping in the short term. Strong consumer confidence since the referendum has been the key factor in maintaining vigorous economic growth, an outcome that has wrongfooted many economists. – The Times (£)

House of Lords demand more influence over Brexit

Labour Lords have launched a new drive to secure greater influence over Theresa May’s Brexit and secure the rights of EU citizens in the UK. The peers want to force ministers to the despatch box to discuss the two issues later this month around the time that Ms May is expected to trigger Article 50, sparking the two-year countdown to Brexit. Their demands include a new joint-committee including Lords and MPs to work out how, when and why Parliament should vote on the final Brexit deal – something Ms May has promised will happen. – The Independent

Brexit will benefit the City if transitional periods are kept to a minimum, finds new report

Brexit might be the City of London’s golden ticket, provided transition periods are kept as short as possible, according to a new report penned by a Brexiteer academic. “Transitional arrangements will also depend on the degree of co-operation from the EU27,” read the report from Professor David Blake of Cass Business School, who is also a member of Economists for Free Trade, which used to be known as Economists for Brexit. “It is in everybody’s interests that any transitional arrangements are kept as short term as possible, no longer than is needed to bridge the gap between the UK’s exit from the EU and the conclusion of any formal long-term trading agreement with the EU.” – City A.M.

Jon Rogers: The real reason why Britain may leave EU with no deal – and it’s not the UK’s fault

Britain’s two year deadline to secure a Brexit deal with the European Union (EU) will be cut short to almost half that time due to a relentless list of breaks, holidays and events on the Brussels calendar. The Queen will sign off the Brexit Bill today giving Theresa May the power to trigger Article 50 and begin the two years of negotiations allowed. But in reality there is actually far less than the apparent 730 days available to thrash out an agreement and have it ratified by all concerned. Brussels effectively shuts up shop in August as it takes its summer break, meaning two months are out straight away. And over the two years, this includes the equivalent of three months of weekends. Another five months will be needed for Parliaments to translate, scrutinise, debate and then approve any final deal that is put on the table. Jon Rogers for the Daily Express

Andrew RT Davies AM: Welsh Conservatives are no longer underdogs, but poised to make the most of Brexit

Consider, if you will, the shell-shocked response of the Welsh political establishment – and in particular of Labour and Plaid Cymru – to Brexit. The Welsh public at large embraced the opportunity to take back control, in part because they sensed an opportunity to recast the mould. Yet the response of the Welsh Government has been paralysis, and it’s clear that the Labour Party and the Welsh nationalists have yet to wake up to the result. Whilst the Scottish separatists can at least cling to domestic support for EU membership in the referendum, here in Wales the public convincingly backed a new relationship for the UK with the EU. It’s led to a bizarre turn of events where the Plaid leader, a Fisher Price Nicola Sturgeon clone, now wants to press ahead with a debate about Welsh independence – even though polls show around five times as much support for Brexit amongst the Welsh public as for the breakup of the United Kingdom – Andrew RT Davies AM for ConHome

Brexit in brief

  • Fellow Remoaners, we have to get over Brexit – Seb Dance for The Independent
  • Brexit causes most stress to young, well-educated Scottish women – The Independent
  • Polish Business group claim Warsaw will take UK banking jobs after Brexit – The Independent
  • UK expats in Spain applying for citizenship – FT (£)
  • Plan for Britain? Error messages blight new government website – Reuters

And Finally… Brexit is less stressful than losing your smartphone, says study

British adults feel more stressed about the prospect of losing their smartphone than they do about Brexit, according to a new study conducted by the Physiological Society. The Stress in modern Britain survey asked people to rate how stressful they find – or imagine they would find – 18 different life events, with the Physiological Society using the results to assign an average score to each one from a scale of zero to ten, with zero meaning ‘Not at all stressful’ and ten ‘Very stressful’. Smartphone loss came 14th on the list, with a score of 5.79, making it more stressful than Brexit (4.23), but slightly less stressful than terrorist threats (5.84). – The Independent