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"News from the Brexit Cliff Edge" 12th Feb 2019

News Highlights

Welcome to the Brexit Cliff Edge

Too many of us risk ending up at the Brexit Cliff Edge without enough information about how we got there. With the publication of this newsletter we hope to avoid that. For the next few weeks we will endeavour to round-up the latest stories on this prolific topic, helping you navigate this endless, relentless sea of Brexit news. 

If you want to campaign, feel free to post these stories to your own social media networks. if you want to write sharper articles, or blog posts, use them as a research tool to help inform you. We hope finding material from different sources in one place will save you time and make it easier to see what is most relevant in your eyes, every day.

It is time to get more people involved and better informed about Brexit, in whatever way suits them best. that way we can all be prepared as we approach the Brexit Cliff Edge.

Jobs at Risk
Brexit: Thousands of UK lorry drivers face being barred from entering EU after missing out on permits
Thousands of British lorry drivers face the prospect of being barred from entering the EU after missing out on permits that will be required after Brexit. Figures show more than 11,000 HGV operators applied for a European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permit but less than 1,000 of the annual passes were made available. The Department for Transport said an additional 2,832 one-month permits “will start to be allocated” by the end of the month, although this is still short of how many are required.
Economic Impact
Brexit is clearly taking its toll on UK economic growth
For beneath the headline figures which showed that the economy grew by 0.2% in the final quarter of last year were a couple of striking stories: first, that the economy is looking weaker than those big numbers suggest; second, that that weakness owes rather a lot to Brexit. For one thing, that when you put it at two decimal places, growth in the fourth quarter was 0.17%, which looks a bit weaker than 0.2%, and is barely more than half the 0.3% economists forecast. Second, look at the monthly pace of economic growth and something else leaps out at you. The economy, it turns out, grew by 0.2% in October and November, but then contracted by 0.4% in December. Every sector save agriculture shrank, from services to the manufacturing and construction sectors.
Brexit no-deal could blow £18.6bn hole in UK economy, tourism body warns
A Brexit no-deal could blow a huge £18.6 billion hole in the UK economy as a result of more than 700,000 jobs being lost in the travel and tourism sector, a leading trade body has warned. It has forecasted a loss of £18.6 billion in GDP to the UK economy in the event of a Brexit no-deal and deficit of £22 billion to the remaining economies throughout the European Union. The research reveals 308,000 jobs in the travel and tourism sector would be lost, as well as an additional 399,000 jobs in the rest of the European Union.
British Pound Undermined by Data Showing UK Economy Shrank in December
The UK economy shrank in December 2018 according to official data from the ONS with month-on-month GDP data showing the economy shrank -0.4% in December, a decline that exceeds consensus expectations for a reading of 0%.
UK economic growth slowest since 2012
The UK economy expanded at its slowest annual rate in six years in 2018 after a sharp contraction in December. Growth in the year was 1.4%, down from 1.8% in 2017 and the slowest rate since 2012, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
‘Toxic alliance’: Rebel Labour MPs warned that support for government's Brexit deal could cost constituencies £1.1bn a year
Rebel Labour MPs targeted by Downing Street are being warned that their constituencies could lose £1.1bn a year within a decade if they back Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Analysis of Treasury figures for the People’s Vote campaign found the 32 constituencies such as Wigan and Hartlepool could be hit by a total annual loss of £970m in economic output and some £100m in agricultural subsidies and structural funds within 10 years of leaving the EU. These areas, whose MPs have either backed the government or been reportedly targeted by Ms May, have also seen £895m cuts from local authority funding since 2010, the research found.
Administrative Fall Out
Businesses say Brexit burden means Gove's plans should be paused
The government has been asked to pause as a matter of “great urgency” consultations on all food, farming and environment issues because Brexit is choking the capacity of businesses to respond to Michael Gove’s plans. Leaders from 32 organisations across all sectors have written to the environment, food and rural affairs secretary to express their “deep concern” over the resources they are having to divert to protect against the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit. The intervention means that consultations on Gove’s pet projects, such as a bottle deposit scheme for England and Wales, could be delayed.
British passports may not be valid for upcoming holidays, warns the UK Passport Office
With Brexit scheduled for Friday 29 March – and still shrouded in an air of uncertainty – the British passport office have started to contact people via text message to warn them about how the changes may affect any upcoming holidays in EU countries. The warning comes at a time when it’s becoming more likely that the UK may leave the EU without a deal in place. If that happens, British passport holders would lose their free travel access to countries in the EU and Schengen area. To try and minimise the disruption, travellers who may be affected are receiving text message reminders.
Brexit: Families already have £1,500 LESS to spend since 2016 referendum
Household incomes have taken a £1,500 hammering since the Brexit referendum, experts reveal today. The UK has experienced the sharpest slowdown in income growth of any comparable economy, reveals the Resolution Foundation think tank study.
Gina Miller: Brexit could erode LGBT+ rights in the UK
The government insists that it will continue to champion LGBT+ rights after the UK leaves the EU, but the government’s plan in the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to exclude the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights does not live up to its promise that Brexit should not lead to a reduction in rights. The inconvenient truth is the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is the only treaty binding on the UK that expressly protects against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
UK, 3 non-EU nations ink ex-pat residency deal
The British government has agreed to allow citizens of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein already living in Britain to remain after Brexit even if the country leaves the European Union without a deal. The agreement finalized on Friday should remove the uncertainty a “hard” Brexit scenario posed for some 15,000 citizens of the three non-EU nations who live in Britain. The deal’s reciprocal arrangement also clarifies plans for some 17,000 British citizens who reside in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Those countries aren’t EU members, but belong to the much-smaller EEA EFTA group. EEA EFTA spokesman Thorfinnur Omarsson said Monday the agreement secured their citizens’ rights in Britain “regardless of the outcome of negotiations between the EU and the U.K.”
The Brexit fears of 70,000 British pensioners living in Spain
Spain is the country in the EU with the largest number of British pensioners. (70,000). The UK pays Spain's Health Department 245m Euros a year to help cover the health costs of these British pensioners, but with no brexit leaving deal, Spain can simply drop treatment for these pensioners and without it they will be forced to return to the UK. Many are furious as they do not want to go back
Taking your pets to Europe after Brexit
The Pet Passport is something that was agreed with the European Union, meaning British pets, including dogs, cats and ferrets can travel freely to Europe if they are holders of a passport. But in a ‘no-deal’ scenario, this arrangement would be scrapped. Your dog, cat or ferret must be chipped and have an up to date rabies injection. After allowing a month to pass a blood sample needs to be taken from your loved one and sent off to an EU approved doctor for analysis. The antibodies for rabies need to be at an approved level. Then three months must pass and a further check needs to be carried out. So, if you’re looking to travel to Europe this summer with your Pet, then you need to act now! In light of the risk of a no deal Brexit, we’ve taken the decision that pets are no longer allowed to travel with their owners destined for travel to Europe in our Motorhomes. However, Pets are still more than welcome to travel with their owners on holidays which are based in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Beyond Brexit: How universities and companies are trying to look past the cliff edge
The increasingly palpable hard Brexit would end the UK’s participation in the prestigious European Research Council, and spell an uncertain future for grantees living in the country. “Some of this talent could leave overnight,” said one university leader. The government should cushion the fallout, was the suggestion at this information event, by relaxing immigration rules to allow more scientists from outside the EU into the UK.
Meet the 'Brexit Preppers' stockpiling food for a No-Deal Brexit
People across Bristol are ‘prepping for Brexit’ by stockpiling food, drink, medicines and other essentials, in the event of empty supermarket shelves on the day we leave the European Union. They may well originally have been both Leavers or Remainers, but all say they are preparing for the worst if the supply lines that keep Britain fed are disrupted on March 30.
Indian doctors protest UK's 'unfair' health surcharge on non-EU professionals
UK-based Indian doctors and healthcare professionals are campaigning against what they describe as an unfair doubling of a health surcharge imposed on professionals from outside the European Union (EU) living and working in Britain. The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), the UK's largest representative body for Indian-origin doctors, is lobbying the UK Home Office for a rethink over the charge, arguing that it would have an adverse impact on their attempt to recruit more healthcare professionals from India to meet staff shortages in the NHS.
EU governments provide Brexit relief for asset managers
European governments have stepped up efforts to grant crucial concessions to UK asset managers to limit the worst effects of a no-deal Brexit. France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands are among countries that have amended national laws to ensure UK investment companies can still serve foreign customers. British groups manage at least £1.8tn for clients in the EU. Such relationships are in jeopardy because of the likelihood that Britain will crash out of the bloc without a deal on March 29.
Dutch say no-deal Brexit could hit 50 medicines
Dutch health authorities say that the supply of some 50 medicines used to treat life-threatening illnesses could be jeopardized if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal. However, the health ministry is not publishing the list, fearing it could lead to hoarding and price rises. In an update on Brexit preparations published Wednesday, the ministry says that the Dutch authority responsible for assessing medicines looked at about 2,700 medical products linked to the United Kingdom and has whittled down the list to around 50 whose supply could be threatened by a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.
2,000 EU nationals invited to meeting in Perth to discuss Brexit
Senior SNP politicians have invited the more than 2,000 EU nationals within their constituencies to the meeting. The UK Government expects EU nationals to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK. The Home Office is providing £9 million funding to help organisations provide advice about the scheme.
Political Shenanigans
Why A No-Deal Brexit Is Now Theresa May's Fallback Plan To Save Her Party – And Herself
Chief whip Julian Smith and, crucially, party chairman Brandon Lewis made a forceful case that she had to find a way to accommodate her backbenches, rather than make a grand bargain with the official Labour opposition. Smith had warned her before the vote that she would lose if she didn’t address MPs’ concerns about the so-called backstop for Northern Ireland, the guarantee in the deal to keep the province’s border open with Ireland through continuing alignment of EU rules. A fortnight later, May was thrown a lifeline by her party after she agreed to ask Brussels for “alternative arrangements” that could win a parliamentary majority. In recent days, May has more than ever bought into the Smith-Lewis argument that party unity has to come first, one source claims. “She’s thrown all of her weight behind the chief whip. He’s telling her ‘your party is fucked if you do anything other than hold strong’.”
Why a no-deal Brexit is likely
Most MPs tell me they believe a no-deal Brexit is a remote prospect. They are wrong. I would argue it is the most likely outcome - unless evasive action is taken much sooner than anyone expects. Here is why. 1) The probability is low of the PM securing substantial enough changes to the widely loathed backstop to win a vote for her deal exclusively from Tory MPs, the DUP and a modest number of leave-supporting Labour MPs. 2) The probability is also low of the PM risking the break up of her party by pursuing all the way to a formal agreement.
Dominic Grieve: As Brexit disaster looms, we must have the courage to retrace our steps
For more than two-and-a-half years we have been following a route, led by the Prime Minister, which is intended to take us out of the EU without undermining our economy or security while honouring the referendum result. But with less than 50 days to go the signs that we have lost our way are all about us. So is the mounting evidence of present and future damage.
Majority of voters want Theresa May to delay Brexit, exclusive Independent poll finds
A majority of the country want Theresa May to delay Brexit, according to a new poll released ahead of a fresh Commons showdown over her exit strategy. With less than seven weeks until exit day, the exclusive survey for The Independent found 53 per cent of voters would support postponing Britain’s departure from the European Union, opening the door to a second referendum or further talks with Brussels. The poll comes as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sought to quell anger among his own MPs by stressing that a Final Say vote was still on the table.
Barnier says Britain must give ground to break Brexit impasse
Michel Barnier has said “something has to give” on the British side of the negotiations if the Brexit impasse is to be broken. The EU’s chief negotiator insisted there was no question of Brussels giving in to Downing Street’s demands on the Irish backstop. “We’re waiting for clarity and movement from the United Kingdom,” Barnier told reporters after talks in Luxembourg with the country’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel.
Back a public vote now, Labour donors tell Corbyn
Over 40 Labour donors and long-standing members have written to Jeremy Corbyn demanding that he “back a public vote without further delay”. The letter, sent to the Labour leader today, warns that “time is dangerously short” and “the current deadlock is slowly but surely wrecking the economy”. Citing Theresa May’s “dismal record as a negotiator” and “propensity to put party before country”, the party donors say they could not trust her to deliver the right Brexit result – even if parliament were to vote for Labour’s alternative Brexit plan.
Lessons for Brexit from Norway’s hard border with Sweden
Norway’s membership in the European Economic Area (EEA) grants it access to the EU’s vast common market and most goods are exempt from paying duties. Still, everything entering the country must be declared and cleared through customs. Technological solutions being tested in Norway to digitalize customs procedures for cargo have been seized on by some in Britain as a way to overcome border-related problems that threaten to scuttle a divorce deal with the EU. But the realities of this northern border also show the difficulties that persist.
BBC Radio 4's news not biased against Brexit, says regulator
BBC Radio 4’s news output is not inherently anti-Brexit, the media regulator has concluded, dismissing a formal complaint from a group of MPs and peers who believe the corporation is biased in favour of remainers. The politicians had claimed “positive, pro-Brexit opinion is being systematically underrepresented in BBC output” and that “more time, space and emphasis is being given to pro-EU or anti-Brexit voices”, based on an analysis of Radio 4’s output.
Ribble Valley MP requests rural funding for constituencies that voted to leave the EU
Nigel Evans, MP for the Ribble Valley, has written to the Prime Minister asking for increased funding for rural constituencies that voted to leave the European Union. Following recent reports that the Government is considering proposals from a group of Labour MPs, in predominantly Leave-supporting constituencies, to allocate more funds to their communities, Mr Evans has urged the Prime Minister to extend any incentives and funding to all rural constituencies that voted to leave the European Union.
Inside Europe: superb TV that shows how to solve the EU crisis
Inside Europe: Ten Years of Turmoil, is an extraordinary BBC2 documentary that ends tonight. The series is effectively a Brexit prequel, examining how the current crisis was shaped by three pressure points on the European Union: the bail-out of the Eurozone in 2010, plus the Greek debt crisis and the European migrant emergency of 2015.
Political Setbacks
Grayling urged to quit as spending on Brexit ferry deal consultants revealed
Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, is facing calls to resign after auditors found his department spent £800,000 of public money on consultants assessing the bid of a company with no ships that was temporarily awarded a Brexit-related ferry contract. The shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald, said his opposite number had been shown to be “off the Richter scale of incompetence” after the demise of plans involving the startup Seaborne Freight. A report by Whitehall’s spending watchdog found the Department for Transport (DfT) “spent approximately £800,000 on its external consultants Slaughter and May, Deloitte and Mott MacDonald”.
Eurotunnel takes UK government to court over no-deal Brexit ferry contracts
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling's decision to award contracts to three ferry companies, including one with no ships, under no-deal Brexit plans, is being challenged at the High Court. Eurotunnel, which operates the Channel Tunnel, says the contracts totalling £108 million were awarded through a "secretive and flawed procurement process". But the Department for Transport argues that the "extreme urgency" of preparations for Britain's departure from the EU on March 29 justified the process.
Amber Rudd links universal credit to rise in food bank use
Amber Rudd says the increased use of food banks is partly down to problems in rolling out universal credit. The system was supposed to be up and running by April 2017, but it has faced numerous delays and is now not expected to be fully operational until December 2023. Research released by the Trussell Trust charity this month showed the use of food banks had increased by 52% in areas where universal credit had been in place for a year or more - compared with 13% in areas where it had not been.
Labour MP Angela Smith turned away from party's HQ with People's Vote petition
A Labour MP attempted to hand in a petition to the party's headquarters, calling for a second Brexit referendum, only for it to be turned away. Angela Smith's petition, which called on the party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to back a People's Vote, has been signed by nearly 50,000 people. Ms Smith told ITV News MPs shouldn't be "bribed" with money for their constituencies because Brexit will cost more than the PM can offer.
UK will deploy drone squadron after Brexit, says defence secretary
The UK would “develop swarm squadrons of network-enabled drones capable of confusing and overwhelming enemy air defences”, Williamson said, and he promised to have them “ready to be deployed by the end of this year”. One expert, Chris Cole, from Drone Wars UK, an NGO that monitors the use of armed drones, said he thought the defence secretary had overblown the idea. The idea of swarm drones was “very much at the concept stage, and it’s very unlikely he can meet the deadline of the end of the year,” he said.
Hostile Environment: Hundreds of Commonwealth nationals evicted under anti-migrant 'right to rent' rule
Figures obtained by Politics.co.uk reveal that almost 300 Commonwealth nationals have been evicted from their homes under the government's controversial 'right to rent' rules, raising concerns that members of the Windrush generation could have been affected. A key measure within the regulations forces landlords to terminate a tenancy if they receive a notice from the Home Office informing them that someone living at the property is 'disqualified' from renting. A freedom of Information request has now revealed that between December 2016 and July 2018 419 people were named on these notices. Of those, 293 were from Commonwealth countries, raising the possibility that some of those affected could be part of the Windrush generation.
Chris Grayling 'Baffled' At Criticism Of Seaborne Freight Fiasco
Chris Grayling has refused to apologise for the Seaborne Freight no-deal Brexit ferry debacle and described criticism of him as “baffling” and “inexplicable”. The transport secretary also reversed Horatio Nelson’s famous quote, declaring “I did see ships” after being mocked for handing a £14m contract to Seaborne, a company which owned no ferries, to move supplies across the Channel. Grayling had hoped that Seaborne would ferry crucial supplies between Ramsgate in Kent to Ostend in Belgium in the event of a no-deal Brexit but cancelled the contract last week.
Trade Deals/Negotiations
Government to miss Brexit trade deal target
Government officials have admitted for the first time that they will not be able to renegotiate all trade treaties involving the European Union by the end of March. The UK is party to around 40 European treaties, covering trade with more than 70 countries and making up 12% of the UK's total trade. In the event of no deal, each would need to be rewritten, either with new terms or by mirroring the existing terms, a process known as "rolling over". Two years ago, the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said that updated versions of all those treaties should be ready to sign within a minute of Britain leaving the EU.
The impact of Brexit on Wales: 14 serious ways the country loses out if we crash out of European Union
Wales Online explains in a highly detailed, comprehensive analysis just how badly Brexit could impact Wales, based on several pieces of government research. It lists fourteen reasons and parts of the Welsh economy that stand to be hit and why. It also underlines that Wales could be the region hardest hit by Brexit
UK signs post-Brexit trade deal with Switzerland
The UK and Switzerland have signed a deal to continue trading after Brexit as they did before it. The "continuity agreement" - based on the EU's existing free trade deal with Switzerland - was agreed in December but ratified on Monday. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the deal would "continue the preferential trade that we have". The UK is seeking to replicate about 40 EU free trade agreements, covering more than 70 countries.
UK, 3 non-EU nations ink expat residency deal
The British government has agreed to allow citizens of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein already living in Britain to remain after Brexit even if the country leaves the European Union without a deal. The agreement finalized on Friday should remove the uncertainty a “hard” Brexit scenario posed for some 15,000 citizens of the three non-EU nations who live in Britain. The deal’s reciprocal arrangement also clarifies plans for some 17,000 British citizens who reside in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
No-deal Brexit 'could cost 600,000 jobs worldwide': study
Researchers at the IWH Institute in Halle, eastern Germany, examined what would happen if UK imports from the remaining EU fell 25 per cent after Brexit. They reckoned that some 103,000 jobs would be under threat in Europe's largest economy Germany and 50,000 in France.
Italy explores its own "bilateral Brexit deal" with Britain as its economic crisis nears danger level
Italy is drawing up emergency plans to safeguard financial stability and keep trade with the UK flowing even if there is a no-deal Brexit, if necessary through a bilateral deal between Rome and London. The country’s insurgent Lega-Five Star coalition is increasingly worried that a mishandling of the EU’s Brexit crisis could push Italy's fragile economy into a dangerous downward slide and risk a funding crisis for its sovereign debt at a treacherous moment. Premier Giuseppe Conte has told his Brexit Task Force to focus urgently on ports, airports, customs, and the handling of food trade, as well as the status of Italians living in the UK.