Brexit News for Sunday 19 March

Brexit News for Sunday 19 March

Nicola Sturgeon tells UK residents: Move to Scotland if you don’t like Brexit

Nicola Sturgeon has issued an open invitation to UK residents to move to Scotland ahead of Brexit. She said those “appalled” at the behaviour of the Westminster Government should move to Scotland and be part of an “outward-looking, compassionate country”. A stand-off is growing between the Scottish First Minister and Prime Minister Theresa May over the prospect of a second independence referendum. The SNP leader used her closing address to her party’s conference to highlight the difference between the two administrations. An independent Scotland would “unequivocally” guarantee the right of all EU citizens living in the country to stay here, the First Minister said. – Evening Standard

Theresa May to unveil plans for converting EU law via ‘Henry VIII clauses’ later this month

Detailed plans for restoring the UK Parliament’s sovereignty after Brexit are to be published within days, the Telegraph understands. Proposals for converting EU law into UK law and repealing the legislation that took Britain into the bloc will be published when Brexit is triggered. A small number of drafts of the White Paper – which is said to be around 50 page long – have been circling Whitehall in recent weeks. Government sources said the document will be published when Theresa May formally triggers Article 50 by the end of this month. Whitehall figures believe the date will be March 29. Proposals will reveal full details for how the Government will end the rule of European law by introducing legislation dubbed the “Great Repeal Bill”. – Daily Telegraph

…as Jeremy Corbyn says immigrants are not to blame for UK economic problems and must stay after Brexit

Immigrants should not be held to blame for Britain’s economic difficulties and must stay in the country in the wake of Brexit, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said. Addressing an audience at Birmingham City Council House, Mr Corbyn said it was “vitally important” to protect Britain’s diversity following the vote to leave the EU. Speaking at an event organised by the Runnymede Trust, Mr Corbyn said the the message that European nationals should stay “must be heard loud and clear”. “In the wake of the Brexit decision, it is vitally important that we value, celebrate and protect our diverse society,” he said. “And that includes the three million European nationals who live and work here, who have made their lives and family and friends here and are so connected to so many millions of us. – BT

Gordon Brown: Give Scotland more powers after Brexit as ‘third option’ to avoid break-up of the UK

Gordon Brown has called for Scotland to be handed a raft of new powers after Brexit as a “third option” to avoid a break-up of the United Kingdom. The former prime minister said a new form of federal home rule is needed to unite the country and avoid years of “bitter division”. Mr Brown was speaking at the Festival Of Ideas in Kirkcaldy, Fife, against the backdrop of a constitutional stand-off between the UK and Scottish governments over the calling of a second independence referendum. He has already pledged to join forces with Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale to campaign for a People’s Constitutional Convention to look at how power is distributed across the nations and regions of the UK. – Evening Standard

  • Nicola Sturgeon ‘heading for extreme independence outside British single market’, Gordon Brown warns – Daily Telegraph
  • Scottish Labour: We can’t support a referendum before Brexit – Sky News
  • Scottish Tories: It’s Sturgeon’s obsession playing out again – Sky News

Leading Germany industrialist says ‘hard Brexit’ would severely hit German economy

The impact of a “hard Brexit” on Germany would be severe, the president of Germany’s DIHK Chambers of Industry and Commerce said in a media interview published on Saturday. Eric Schweitzer told the Funke media group that Britain was Germany’s third most important export partner and shipments had already dropped by nine percent in the fourth quarter. He said the European Union should take a tough line in Brexit negotiations with Britain. “EU membership is based on the free movement of services, goods, capital and workers … Britain now wants to benefit from the first three but do away with the free movement of workers and that’s not possible, above all because there could then be copycats,” Schweitzer said. – Reuters

Chis Grayling hopes Brexit brings new apprenticeships in train

Strict EU procurement guidelines create a level playing field that has helped overseas groups win UK transport projects, often to the detriment of UK industry. Infamously, Bombardier announced 1,400 job cuts at what was then the UK’s last remaining train manufacturing plant after Krefeld-based Siemens won a £3bn deal to build 1,200 carriages for the trans-London Thameslink route in 2011. Eurosceptics, and even EU-supportive unions, have complained for years that the EU rules – or Ojeu rules, named after the journal that contract bids are printed in – do not take into account practical domestic advantages to promote its agenda of borderless competition. The UK has typically adhered to Ojeu rules more closely than other members, but the procurement contracts are free to stipulate that local skills must be improved as a result of a contract award. – The Observer

No other countries will quit EU after Britain, asserts Commission President Juncker

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is not worried about other EU countries leaving the bloc after Britain because Brexit will make them see it is not a good option, he said in a newspaper interview. Asked by Bild am Sonntag newspaper if other member states would follow Britain’s example in quitting, Juncker said: “No. Britain’s example will make everyone realise that it’s not worth leaving.” He added: “On the contrary, the remaining member states will fall in love with each other again and renew their vows with the European Union.” – Reuters

Philip Hammond reportedly faces mutiny from Brexit ministers as departments demand more money after Budget ‘shambles’

Brexit ministers have demanded Philip Hammond pays for hundreds of extra officials amid fury that departments have been forced to find cuts. Senior figures in the three Whitehall departments delivering Brexit have told this newspaper the Treasury must agree tens of millions of extra funding. Failure to do so would would undermine “Britain’s trading future” and a drive to forge new links across the world, ministers will argue in spending talks. Both the Foreign Office and the Trade Department have been ordered to outline 6 per cent spending cuts – though the Brexit Department is exempt. – Daily Telegraph

Almost half of British people do not believe Government will conclude Brexit talks within two years

Almost half of British people do not believe the Government will conclude the process of leaving the European Union by March 2019, according to a new poll for The Independent. It comes as Theresa May prepares to invoke Article 50, the untested mechanism for a member state leaving the EU, within the next two weeks ahead of her self-imposed deadline at the end of March. The activation of Article 50 starts the two-year countdown on Britain’s exit from the EU. For an extension to be granted for the negotiation period – if Downing Street fails to reach an agreement by March 2019 – there will need to be a unanimous decision by the 27 other member states. – The Independent

John Major’s plea for Theresa May to disown Ultra Brexiteers: Former PM launches thinly veiled attack on MPs ‘determined to silence’ those who oppose a complete break with Brussels

John Major has delivered a thinly veiled attack on Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for saying that the economy will be ‘perfectly OK’ if Britain is forced to leave the EU without a trade deal.
The former Prime Minister says Mr Johnson is part of a group of Tory ‘Ultra Brexiteers’ determined to silence all opposition to a ‘complete break’ with Brussels, with ‘disastrous’ consequences for the country. – Mail on Sunday

Britain needs its EU workers to succeed, say top bosses as triggering of Article 50 looms

Bosses of two leading companies have warned that expelling European Union workers from Britain will deal a massive blow to the economy.
Mike Coupe, chief executive of Sainsbury, said it would be ‘unacceptable’ to force 8,000 of his staff to leave the UK after Brexit. Meanwhile, Tim Martin, founder and chairman of pubs group JD Wetherspoon – who was one of the most prominent pro-Brexit business leaders during the referendum campaign – said it was vital that immigration stays close to current levels to keep the economy dynamic. – Mail on Sunday

Philip Hammond says EU stance on Brexit Bill is ‘negotiating position’

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond dismissed suggestions that the European Union would refuse to start trade talks until Britain had agreed to settle its Brexit bill as a “negotiating position,” saying he didn’t recognize the amounts suggested that Britain may owe the bloc. Hammond reiterated that Britain would honor its legal liabilities, but suggested totals being discussed by the European Commission were deliberately inflated by including contributions the U.K. would make while it was still a member of the EU over the next two years. The bill to settle the U.K.’s liabilities is estimated as high as 60 billion euros ($64.5 billion). “When you’re going to a negotiation what you do is overstate your position, draw harder than they need to be your red lines as a starting point,” he told reporters at the G-20 finance ministers’ meeting in Baden-Baden, Germany. “We don’t recognize the sort of numbers that are being talked about.” – Bloomberg

Matthew Lynn: Why business should get behind Britain

In the nine months since the referendum on Britain’s EU membership, we have been engaged in a phoney war with the EU. The government has stated its intention to leave, but nothing has actually happened yet. It is only once Article 50 is triggered, and the UK gives formal notice of its intention to quit, that the real negotiations will begin. We will then discover what the exit bill will be, whether it will be possible to stay inside the single market, whether we will have some other form of trade agreement, and what kind of deal might be cut for the City to sell financial services into Europe. That process will, no doubt, be fraught, with lots of brinkmanship on both sides. But business, and big business in particular, can help the UK get the best possible deal. – Matthew Lynn for MoneyWeek

Liam Halligan: Trading under World Trade Organisation rules after Brexit would be no hardship

As one Brexit hurdle is cleared, the doom-mongers erect another. Before last June’s referendum, the Treasury warned ad nauseam that voting to leave the European Union would spark “an immediate and profound economic shock”. Since that vote, with the economy holding up regardless, we have seen endless legal battles and parliamentary shenanigans stopping the Prime Minister from even getting the Brexit ball rolling. Now, with the law allowing Article 50 to be triggered finally passed, the doom machine has been programmed anew. The Brexit-blockers’ new crie de coeur is the cataclysmic impact of leaving the EU with “no deal”, the dystopian wasteland the UK would become if we traded instead under “World Trade Organisation rules”. Such nostrums are self-serving nonsense; the latest mutation of “Project Fear”, spread by those with little understanding of negotiation tactics and even less of economics. – Liam Halligan for the Daily Telegraph

Charles Moore: Why a second vote on Scottish independence is completely different from the EU referendum

“La Reyne le veult” (“The Queen wishes it”). With these traditional words of Norman French, Her Majesty this week gave her assent to the Article 50 Bill which will signal the end of our 45-year constitutional connection with the European Continent. The last time a monarch refused to authorise those words was in 1708. Queen Anne rejected the Scottish Militia Bill which Parliament had passed, with the words “La Reyne s’avisera” (“The Queen will be advised”). That Bill was introduced after the Act of Union which had united England and Scotland the previous year. The Bill permitted the rearming of the Scottish militia, but because the French were reported to be sailing for Scotland to incite revolt, Anne feared disloyalty up north, and so preferred the militia unarmed. – Charles Moore for the Daily Telegraph

Andrew RT Davies AM: We’re a skilled, ambitious nation — let’s dig deep and think big

While 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 led to a bizarre turn of events where the Plaid Cymru leader now wants to press ahead with a debate about Welsh independence — this in spite of polls showing about five times as much support for Brexit among the Welsh public as for the breakup of the United Kingdom. This marked yet another example of nationalist interests being prioritised over national interests. I will reiterate the prime minister’s rebuke: Politics is not a game. Now that the Brexit bill has received royal assent, it is time that political leaders from all four of our united nations sang from the same hymn sheet and pulled behind Theresa May. – Andrew RT Davies for The Times (£)

James Skinner: Canada ”At Front Of Queue” For Brexit Trade Deals

Global News Network in Canada is reporting that Canada is “at the front of the queue” for post-Brexit trade deals, following the first ever Commonwealth Trade Ministers’ Meeting in London last week. The report affirms that CANZUK countries are top priority for the UK government, as Canada will now join Australia and New Zealand in being the first to establish trade deals following the UK’s departure from the European Union. Trade Ministers from 30 Commonwealth countries met to discuss upcoming trade negotiations, with Canada represented by its Minister of International Trade François-Philippe Champagne. Reports suggest that discussions were productive, with tremendous support for trade agreements advocated by the UK’s Secretary for International Trade, Liam Fox. – CANZUK International

Harry Phibbs: Gordon Brown is right – Brexit must mean more power devolved to Scotland

Before the Scottish Government cheer too loudly, they might also reflect that the case for decentralisation also extends to local government. Reform Scotland has called for power to be passed down from Holyrood to town halls in Scotland. If, as I hope and expect, the Scottish Conservatives make substantial progress in the Council elections this May, then this is a subject they will probably wish to pursue. However grudging and grumpy he might be, the speech from Brown today is welcome. It reminds people that Brexit is not about taking power from Scotland – but a discussion about how much extra control the Scots will have the chance to take back. – Harry Phibbs for ConservativeHome

Brexit comment in brief

  • Leaving the EU – but not Europe – must include remaining a proud signatory of the ECHR – James Dobson for ConservativeHome
  • Why Berlin won’t give Theresa May an easy ride over Brexit – Christian Odendahl for The Observer

Brexit news in brief

  • Theresa May is planning ‘Brexit day’ to celebrate EU independence – Daily Express
  • Most Britons say Brexit vote makes break-up of UK more likely – The Guardian
  • Stop oppressing Cornwall: Council of Europe’s warning to Britain – Daily Telegraph