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"News from the Brexit Cliff Edge" 11th Feb 2019

News Highlights

Welcome to the Brexit Cliff Edge

While focusing on `what the papers don`t say` Byline Times offers a comprehensive run down on hot topics across the media. Today, it`s the Brexit Cliff Edge, and accounts of the economic impact of Britain`s imminent departure from the EU.

Jobs at Risk
Brexit: Netherlands talking to 250 firms about leaving UK
The Dutch government has said it is in talks with more than 250 companies about moving their operations from the UK to the Netherlands before Brexit. The economic affairs ministry said it had lured 42 companies or branch offices and 1,923 jobs from the UK last year, as it increases its efforts to gain Brexit business. Among those who have chosen to invest in the Netherlands are the Discovery Channel, Sony and Bloomberg. Sony announced last month it was moving its European headquarters to Amsterdam, as companies in the UK continue to progress with contingency plans. Its rival Panasonic has already moved to the Dutch capital.
Tories try to limit European election damage with cut‑price campaign
Conservative Party chiefs have signed off a cut-price campaign for the European parliamentary elections after finally admitting that the polls will go ahead two weeks tomorrow. Candidates received a confidential briefing at Conservative campaign headquarters (CCHQ) on what many admit will be a damage-limitation exercise. Party chiefs are said to be sending only taxpayer-funded mailshots with the first wave of literature targeting postal voters due within days. The Conservatives’ message will be that only the governing party can deliver Brexit as it pleads with voters not to back Nigel Farage’s insurgent Brexit Party, according to a senior figure. The first leaflet includes a photograph of Theresa May.
British cryptologist in Belgium explains brain drain resulting from Brexit vote
As the confusion over Brexit becomes increasingly drawn out, a major brain drain is occurring across various fields in the United Kingdom, and academia is no exception.
Economic Impact
The Brexit Bill: Here’s the Damage So Far
Britain’s status as European hub of choice has suffered a blow. Japanese electronics groups Sony Corp and Panasonic Corp, insurer Chubb Ltd. and money-exchange firm TransferWise are among the companies who have moved their EU headquarters or set up new subsidiaries.
What effect has Brexit had on the UK economy?
The Bank of England found that business investment has slowed sharply, and reckons it will fall by even more this year. Companies are unwilling to flash the cash until they are confident about what lies ahead. That's not just down to a lack of clarity over Brexit, but a result, too, of weaker demand from elsewhere, as the likes of China and Europe slow down. As a result, the Bank now calculates the total level of GDP is about 1.2% lower than it had expected three years ago.
British and U.S. Banks Are Deeply Divided on Brexit Ties
While U.S. banks want Britain to maintain the closest possible ties with the EU after Brexit, U.K. banks and insurers are anxious they don’t become beholden to new laws made by Brussels, two of the people said.
Blow For UK Growth Businesses As Brexit Hits Fundraising
Disappointing news for start-up and scale-up Britain – investors’ appetite for funding growing businesses appears to be waning. New research suggests there was a marked drop-off in investment in such businesses last year. Beauhurst, the research analyst that specialises in emerging growth companies, says equity investors pumped £7bn into start-up and scale-up businesses last year, down almost 19 per cent on 2017. Deal numbers were significantly lower too: Beauhurst tracked 1,572 transactions during 2018, a near 10 per cent fall on 2017’s figure of 1,744.
UBS Clear to Move $36.5 Billion of Assets to Germany Over Brexit
The impact of Brexit on London’s financial sector came into stark relief as a judge approved plans by a UBS Group AG unit to shift some of its U.K. business -- involving assets valued at more than 32 billion euros ($36.5 billion) -- to Germany. The Swiss bank’s plans are a response to the “external shock” of Britain’s exit from the European Union, not designed for “commercial advantage” or based on any “internal rationalization,” said Judge Alastair Norris in London, who approved the proposal Tuesday.
House prices in Brexit slump:nearly £7,000 knocked off price of average UK home as uncertainty continues
The property market suffered one of its biggest monthly falls since the financial crisis last month as uncertainly over Brexit undermined buyers’ confidence. The average price of a home across the country slumped 2.9 per cent to £223,691 in January wiping almost £7,000 of its value, according to latest figures from mortgage lender Halifax. The fall brought the annual rate of house price inflation down to just 0.8 per cent.
Administrative Fall Out
Heidi Allen: “The fact people are trying to pick holes shows we must be a bit of a threat”
Ever since she railed against George Osborne’s welfare cuts, Heidi Allen’s relationship with the Conservatives looked fragile. After months of feeling disillusioned with her adopted party, she helped to form The Independent Group. Now interim leader of the rebranded Change UK, the South Cambridgeshire MP is hopeful for success at the European elections – but says Brexit cannot be everything that her party’s about. She talks to Sebastian Whale
'Brexit barriers' to be installed on M20 this weekend
Highways chiefs say are using "lessons learned" from Operation Stack to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. Work on installing the temporary steel 'Brexit barriers' along the coastbound carriageway of the M20 begins this weekend, which will lead to the introduction of a 50mph speed limit along an eight-mile stretch. Planners have revealed more details about the timings of the works, saying the barriers will let lorries travelling to Europe flow free and keep traffic disruption to Kent to a minimum.
Brits Will Face Immediate Return Of Mobile Phone Roaming Charges Under No-Deal Brexit, Government Reveals
Brits travelling in Europe will overnight face the return of mobile phone roaming charges in the event of a no-deal Brexit, HuffPost can reveal. A little-noticed government regulation laid before parliament on Tuesday confirms that the UK will revoke the current legislation that allows holidaymakers and business people to use their smartphones in the EU at no extra cost. The draft ‘statutory instrument’, which has been tabled as part of a raft of no-deal preparations, means that from March 29 phone users will be liable for surcharges when they travel on the continent.
Diabetics in Britain worry a no-deal Brexit could put their lives at risk
The Road Haulage Association, a transport industry body, has warned of “disastrous queues at ports” if Britain doesn’t exit smoothly with a deal. For those who rely on lifesaving medicines, the thought of roads to and from ports turning into parking lots is distressing. As with many sectors, health care is deeply integrated across Europe, with sophisticated “just-in-time” supply chains uniting the 28-nation bloc. Up to three-quarters of all the drugs used by Britain’s state-run National Health Services come from or through the E.U.
Theresa May's government fails to hire 1,000 new border workers to cope with Brexit
The UK government has failed to recruit the 1,000 new border workers it promised ahead of Brexit, despite pledging to do so a year ago. The delay means the UK could be unprepared to cope with the strain of a no-deal Brexit on its borders. A leading union chief representing border workers tells Business Insider that "[Border Force staff] can barely manage business as usual, let alone cope with these new challenges."
Hundreds of MI5 officers prepare for Brexit violence in Northern Ireland
A few days ago, the London-based newspaper The Daily Mail cited an unnamed “counterterrorism source” who said that MI5, Britain’s primary counterterrorism agency, had stationed a fifth of its force in Northern Ireland. The agency is allegedly monitoring a number of dissident republican groups —a term used to describe armed groups of Irish nationalists who continue to reject the nationalist community’s majority view to endorse the Good Friday Agreement back in 1998.
Government immigration plans to cost employers more than £1bn after Brexit
The government’s new immigration plans will cost employers more than £1bn, according to a new report. Global Future, an independent think tank advocating “an open and vibrant Britain”, arguges the flagship proposals will also impose an £80m barrier to EU students, and the proposed “settled status scheme” post-Brexit “exactly mirrors the makings of last year’s Windrush scandal – but on a much larger scale”.
U.K. Could Be Kicked Out Of Newly Launched Pharma Tech Security System Because Of Brexit
Saturday, February 9, 2019, sees the launch of the European Union (EU) Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), but the U.K. could be kicked out of the newly launched pharma tech security system if it fails to reach a Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, resulting in a no-deal Brexit. Despite having plowed millions of pounds into the project, in less than 50 days time, when the U.K. is set to leave the EU on March 29, 2019, the U.K. could be forced to lock itself out of what has been dubbed the most high-tech medicines safety system in the world.
Political Shenanigans
UK Labour Party seeks Brexit deal vote before end of the month
The Labour Party will this week try to force Theresa May to pledge another “meaningful vote” on her Brexit deal before the end of February to prevent the prime minister taking the final parliamentary showdown on the UK departure from the EU to the wire. With fewer than 50 days to go until the scheduled Brexit day on March 29, there are growing fears among MPs and business leaders that Downing Street is engaged in dangerous brinkmanship. Keir Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary, will put forward an amendment within days aimed at compelling Mrs May to hold the vote before February 26. “We have got to put a hard stop into this running down the clock,” he told the Sunday Times.
May rejects Corbyn's offer as businesses warn of Brexit cliff edge
Theresa May has effectively ruled out Labour’s ideas for a compromise Brexit plan, shutting off another potential route to a deal as business groups warned that with less than 50 days to go the departure process was entering the “emergency zone”.
Boris Johnson backs call for multibillion cut to UK aid budget
There are calls for a multibillion-pound cut in the UK’s overseas aid budget and closure of the Department for International Development (DfID) as a separate Whitehall entity are set out in a new Conservative vision for a post-Brexit “global Britain” backed by the former foreign secretary Boris Johnson.
Government’s secret post-Brexit plan must rule out the Singapore model
Whitehall should publish the findings of ‘Project After’ to clarify the direction of UK industrial strategy in the case of no-deal. here are plans under discussion in Whitehall to cope with the long-term consequences of a no-deal Brexit. Dubbed Project After, these plans involve Whitehall officials poring over the government’s entire portfolio of tax and spending commitments and how they might be adjusted once the UK tumbles out of the European Union’s single market and tariff-free customs area. No 10 has kept Project After under wraps and little is known about any conclusions that might have been drawn. The theme, we know, centres on encouraging companies that might otherwise depart these shores to stay, and encouraging fresh investment from businesses nervous about setting up shop in a newly outcast UK.
Not opposing Brexit could lose Labour 45 seats, says leaked report
A trade union affiliated with the Labour party has claimed that Jeremy Corbyn’s party could lose an additional 45 seats in a snap election if it fails to take an anti-Brexit position, in a leaked report. The report, drawn up by the transport union TSSA and including extensive polling, was sent to the leftwing pressure group Momentum. It appears to be an attempt to pile pressure on the Labour leader over Brexit. It claims that “Brexit energises Labour remain voters” disproportionately, and warns: “There is no middle way policy which gets support from both sides of the debate.” The Guardian understands that while the report was sent to Momentum, it was not commissioned or requested by the group.
Black and White Ball: Brexit donor snub has PM relying on backers linked to Russia
Conservative donors snubbed the party’s annual Black and White Ball fundraiser, leaving Theresa May increasingly dependent on handouts from supporters linked to Russia. A senior party insider said many big donors had failed to show up at the social event held on Wednesday night at the Evolution venue in Battersea Park, London. One donor who did attend said others had stayed away in protest at May’s leadership and her handling of Brexit...Meanwhile, May has accepted almost £270,000 from Russian-linked donors since she blamed the Kremlin for the Skripal poisoning. She had promised to distance her party from Russian donors when she took office, with allies briefing that she would “sup with a long spoon”. However, the party has accepted almost £2m from Russia-linked donors since May become prime minister in July 2016. Lubov Chernukin, the wife of a former Putin minister, has given £230,250 since last March and Alexander Temerko, a Ukrainian-born former Russian defence chief, gave £39,450.
Senior European Diplomats Believe Theresa May Has Embarked On A “Buy Time” Strategy
A diplomatic note seen by BuzzFeed News reveals that senior European diplomats think the prime minister is trying to “buy time” with MPs – and the risks of a “no deal by accident” are increasing.
BBC defends decision to ban audience members waving EU flags at Eurovision: You Decide
Audience members at a BBC programme to decide the UK’s 2019 Eurovision entry were reportedly banned from bringing EU flags into the venue – instead being offered Union Flags. In a move slammed by pro-EU campaigners as “politicising”, all external flags were checked into security while the show was taking place. EU Flag Mafia, a group who were handing out EU flags ahead of the event, added: “No issues with the Union flag as we’re British, but this is clear propaganda and against the Eurovision code of conduct.”
BBC investigating after Scots ex-UKIP candidate makes Question Time audience appearance for FOURTH time
The BBC has launched an investigation after it emerged a Question Time audience member who attacked the SNP had been on the show three times before. But Mitchell’s contribution from the audience sparked controversy because of his numerous previous appearances. Thursday’s programme aired from Motherwell. Mitchell has previously asked questions from the audience at two debates in Stirling and one in Kilmarnock. Question Time is supposed to have stringent rules about applications and adhere to strict rules about balance. SNP deputy leader Keith Brown said the progamme had “got itself into a real mess”.
Govt working to ensure NHS can 'operate fully' in event of no-deal Brexit
Matt Hancock's confirmation of the preparations followed reports that senior figures are examining ways to reboot the economy if the UK leaves the European Union without an agreement in place. According to the Financial Times, officials from the Treasury, Cabinet Office, business and trade departments are meeting with the head of the civil service to develop emergency plans as part of an initiative called "Project After". The newspaper reports that options explored by the group have included cutting taxes, boosting investment and slashing tariffs - with one Whitehall source describing it as a "Doomsday list of economic levers we could pull if the economy is about to tank".
Theresa May facing ministerial resignations over Brexit as Brussels sends her away empty-handed
Theresa May is returning to Westminster facing ministerial resignations after she left talks with EU leaders over her Brexit deal empty-handed. With another vote in the Commons due next week, a minister said colleagues on Ms May’s own front bench are ready to quit if there is no breakthrough in talks with Brussels. She was told on Thursday by a string of EU chiefs that the controversial backstop in the withdrawal agreement was not up for negotiation – and that she should instead change her red lines to win Labour support and take the deal over the line.
Revealed: The dark-money Brexit ads flooding social media
Facebook has new transparency rules on political ads. But in the last week pro-Brexit groups have spent tens of thousands pushing ‘no deal’ – without having to explain who pays for them.
Boris Johnson earned £51,000 for one speech, MPs' register reveals
Whatever the speculation about Boris Johnson’s political ... no one can doubt his ability to make money since returning to the backbenches, including, it has emerged, being paid more than £51,000 for a single speech.
Ireland and EU discuss emergency funds to offset no-deal Brexit
Ireland is in talks with the EU over a substantial Brexit emergency fund to offset the damage caused to the country’s €4.5bn (£3.96bn) food exports to Britain if the UK crashes out of the bloc with no deal next month. As Theresa May prepares for a crunch meeting in Brussels on Thursday, officials at the European commission are already looking at continuous compensatory measures for Ireland as part of an ongoing arrangement that could last years.
Yvette Cooper: Man arrested over threats to Labour MP
A man has been arrested by police investigating threats made to Labour MP Yvette Cooper. The 59-year-old Leeds man was arrested in Castleford on Friday over alleged threats to the Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford MP. West Yorkshire Police said the man was held "as a result of information received in relation to alleged threats against a serving MP".
Political Setbacks
Brexit: sack Grayling over ferry fiasco, demand MPs
Cross-party calls for transport secretary Chris Grayling’s dismissal following on from the collapse of a £13.8m contract to Seaborne Freight
Four men with a ladder: the billboard campaigners battling Brexit
Posters exposing politicians’ lies and hypocrisy over leaving the EU are appearing across the UK. The friends behind the Led By Donkeys campaign explain why they had to take action
Government spent more than £45,000 printing Brexit deal Theresa May now wants to change
Freedom of Information requests lodged by the BBC reveal that 1,300 copies of the near-600 page EU Withdrawal Agreement were printed to send to MPs and peers ahead of the deal's 230-vote defeat in a House of Commons vote last month. According to the new figures, provided to the broadcaster by the Department for Exiting the European Union, the Government spent £45,637 getting paper copies of the deal produced.
Brexit ferry company with no ferries may be stranded in a port that isn’t a port
The ferry company with no ferries might be stranded in a port that isn’t a port. Running new services from Ramsgate was the Government’s big idea to relieve the pressure on Dover in the event of a No Deal Brexit.But councillors in Ramsgate are meeting tonight to decide whether to make a series of budget cuts. If those cuts go through, it might make the big plans for Ramsgate impossible.
Trade Deals/Negotiations
Exclusive: Secret No-Deal Brexit Plan To Slash Tariffs On All Imports
Ministers are secretly planning to unilaterally cut tariffs on all imports to zero in the event of a no-deal Brexit, in a move that could flood the market with cheap goods and “ruin” industry, HuffPost UK has learnt. Trade Secretary Liam Fox wants to use executive powers – reserved only for ministers – to make a last-minute change to the Trade Bill which would allow the government to dramatically slash tariffs on all foreign goods. It has been described by manufacturing union the GMB as “the ultimate Brexit betrayal”.
Where can I move my cheese
Liam Fox is scrambling to replicate the benefits of the 40 trade deals Britain enjoys with 70 countries thanks to its membership of the EU. The task of crossing out the letters “EU” in these agreements and replacing them with “UK” has proved tougher than expected. A handful have been successfully rolled over, with Switzerland, Israel, Chile and a clutch of southern African nations saying they will continue to trade with Britain on the same terms after Brexit. Yet officials at Fox’s Department for International Trade (DIT) briefed business leaders last week that “most” of the deals may not be ready in time for the March 29 deadline — including those with large markets such as Japan, South Korea and Canada.
Japan seeking big concessions from Britain in trade talks
Japan is seeking tougher concessions from Britain in trade talks than it secured from the EU, while negotiations between London and Tokyo are also being slowed by the looming risk of no-deal Brexit. Japanese trade negotiators are confident they can extract better terms, the Financial Times reported, in a sign of the mounting difficulties facing UK officials as they attempt to line up post-Brexit trade deals around the world.
Here's What US Lobbyists Want Donald Trump To Get From A Post-Brexit Trade Deal
U.S. lobbyists for big firms have made more than 130 demands, which need to be include or any potential trade deal to go ahead between the USA and the UK. These include: Changing how NHS chiefs buy drugs to suit big US pharmaceutical companies; Britain scraps its safety-first approach to safety and food standards; Law changes that would allow foreign companies to sue the British state; Removal of protections for traditional British products.
Business expresses fury at UK failure to roll over EU trade deals
The UK government has told businesses it cannot guarantee the British economy will be covered by “most” of the EU’s global network of trade agreements immediately after Brexit — even if parliament approves Theresa May’s divorce deal with Brussels
UK and Faroe Islands sign trade continuity agreement
The UK has signed a new trade continuity agreement with the Faroe Islands. With almost £200 million worth of fish and crustaceans brought into the UK from the Faroe Islands in 2017, this agreement will allow imports to continue tariff-free and enable businesses to trade as freely as they do now. Trading on these preferential terms will secure savings and help to safeguard access to fish products from the Faroe Islands. Consumers in the UK will potentially benefit from greater choice and lower prices for fish and seafood such as Atlantic salmon, haddock and halibut.
EU Funding Benefits
EU-funded report finds xenophobia is holding migrants back
Xenophobia is keeping foreign-born jobseekers out of the labour market across Europe, research has found. The EU-funded SIRIUS project, which involves researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), looked at conditions in 11 different countries.
Pre-Brexit EU funding bid for Cheshire West heritage scheme
Britain might be leaving the European Union next month, but council chiefs are preparing to work with groups on the continent in an innovative project. Cheshire West and Chester Council’s cabinet has unanimously given the go-ahead for the local authority to take part in a €3 million project that will use technology to help people with disabilities or impairments. Cllr Stuart Parker, shadow cabinet member for communities and wellbeing in CWAC’s Conservative group, urged the cabinet to go ahead with the bid.
Residents react to Hastings EU-funded ‘mini-tram’ scheme
A plan to run a mini-tram along Hastings seafront has received mixed reactions since the news broke this week. At a meeting yesterday (Monday, February 4) Hastings Borough Council said it was looking at running a ‘mini-tram’ from one end of the seafront to the other after winning European project funding. Despite the £159,463 project being funded by the Interreg Europe – a scheme funded by the European Union and European Regional Development Fund – some frustrated readers have asked why the ring-fenced money cannot be used to help improve the town in other ways.