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

News Highlights

Welcome to the Brexit Cliff Edge

  • Drugmaker Shionogi is moving its European HQ out of the UK to the Netherlands
  • Ireland`s Lakeland Dairies has expressed alarm at the extra costs a No Deal Brexit would heap on it and its cross-border merger partner
  • Reuters records the fact that 275 firms are moving a combined $1.2tr in assets and funds, plus thousands of staff, out of the UK to the EU - at a cost of $4bn
  • 50 Northern Irish businesses warned UK lawmakers of economic and social risks from a no-deal Brexit in a letter
  • While speaking in Glasgow, Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, learnt about an oil industry report which says WTO-style tariffs could add at least £500m to the sector`s annual trade bill
  • The Bank of England has told some UK lenders to triple the amount of easy-to-sell assets they hold to help them weather any no deal Brexit liquidity crisis
  • Belgium`s customs authority is advising businesses trading with the UK to `hit pause` for a period just after March 29th
  • Scotland`s Housing Minister, Kevin Stewart, will say leaving the EU without a deal will damage investor confidence in residential assets and the build-to-rent market
  • Northern Ireland`s Retail Consortium chiefs are predicting a dip in living standards in the event of No Deal Brexit
  • Metropolitan police have been banned from taking holiday days so there will be sufficient officers in the event of civil disorder
  • A Sky Data poll revealed 28% of people are stockpiling food and essential items in preparation for a No Deal Brexit
  • Summer holiday bookings were about level year-on-year in January, but they slumped by 9-10% in February, as Brexit drew near
  • The government data system to register the 3m EU citizens living permanently in the UK cannot handle women`s maiden names
  • The government is also refusing to say what it intends to use the EU citizens data for
  • The government is planning a £3.5m advertising campaign pleading with EU citizens not to leave and to get registered to achieve settled status
  • The head of the Chemical Industries Association warned that a No Deal Brexit was threat to billions of pounds of chemicals, many vital to manufacturing and UK infrastructure
  • Greenpeace revealed the Brexit commotion about fishing rights is `cooked up` as fish quotas have been swapped or sold long ago, and are in the hands of a virtual cartel of just a few handful of owners

Political Shenanigans

  • Theresa May has come away from negotiations with the EU empty handed
  • May is coming under fire to announce a date for her departure due to unease over her handling of the withdrawal deal
  • The Eurosceptic wing of the Conservatives sees Theresa May`s departure date as essential, before they will support a deal
  • The EU team are aware that Theresa May is likely to play the blame game. So Michel Barnier publicly Tweeted his proposals last week, to show he was not just saying no to everything
  • There are rumours of political plots flying everywhere. Tory leadership contenders were supposedly jostling for position. They were plotting to keep the UK in a customs union with the EU. There was also rumoured to be only two Cabinet members backing her still
  • Surveys carried out by YouGov suggested that there was no majority support for Theresa May`s deal in any constituency in the UK
  • Labour`s Jeremy Corbyn is not pushing forward with the Second Referendum proposal he commited to. His efforts are focused on the revived Wilson-Kyle Proposal which allows Labour to abstain on May`s deal in return for a guarantee it will be put to the country in a vote
  • Almost all political pundits are predicting Theresa May`s deal will lose Tuesday`s vote by a huge margin
  • There is talk that Theresa May will pull Wednesday`s vote to take No Deal off the table in Parliament, and instead, push for a third go at getting her deal approved at, or around the time of, the next EU Summit on March 21st
  • Young people who were too young to cast a ballot in 2016 (approximately 2m) have been polled and 74% of them said they would vote to Remain in a second referendum
  • There was an epic `stare-off` between Will Self and eurosceptic Mark Francois MP on a BBC Politics show
Jobs at Risk
Japanese drugmaker moves European HQ from London over Brexit
A Japanese pharmaceutical company that based its European headquarters in London five years ago and was praised for doing so by then London mayor Boris Johnson, is now planning to move the base to the Netherlands in preparation for Brexit. Shionogi’s planned move makes it the latest in a string of Japanese companies — including Panasonic and Sony — looking to restructure their European operations to insulate themselves from disruption caused by Britain’s departure from the EU.
Lakeland Dairies: Dairy giant warns of Brexit impact
Brexit could hit the bottom line of a huge new cross-Irish border dairy business, its boss has said. Michael Hanley is the chief executive of Lakeland Dairies. It has just merged with another big player in the Northern Ireland milk market - LacPatrick - to create a new venture. Mr Hanley said Brexit would mean extra costs, build inefficiency into the business and could reduce profits
Brexit fallout on UK finance intensifies - think tank
More than 275 financial firms are moving a combined $1.2 trillion (£925.4 billion) in assets & funds and thousands of staff from Britain to the European Union in readiness for Brexit at a cost of up to $4 billion, a report from a think tank said on Monday.
Northern Ireland firms warn of economic, social risks from no-deal Brexit
Northern Ireland businesses urged British lawmakers on Sunday to seek a compromise over the country’s departure from the European Union and avoid the economic and social risks the province faces in crashing out of the bloc without a deal. Ahead of a vote on Tuesday on the divorce agreement struck with the bloc last year, more than 50 businesses warned members of parliament in an open letter of the dangers of failing to unite behind a way forward that avoids a hard border and protects peace and economic progress in Northern Ireland.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt sparks oil and gas row with Brexit deal vow
An industry report has suggested WTO-style tariffs could add £500 million to the sector’s annual EU trade bill. The prospect of more customs red-tape has led to fears that equipment imported from Europe will be delayed. With EU nationals accounting for 5% of oil and gas workers in the UK, the industry is also anxious to protect its workforce. On the question of tariffs, Mr Hunt said there would be “clarity” on the issue if Mrs May’s deal is backed by parliament on Tuesday.
Economic Impact
BOE tells some UK lenders to triple amount of liquid assets before Brexit - FT
The Bank of England has told some UK lenders to triple the amount of easy-to-sell assets they hold to help them weather any no-deal Brexit crisis, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the situation. The BOE has told some lenders to hold enough liquid assets to be able to cope with stress of 100 days, instead of the regular 30 days that BOE’s Prudential Regulation Authority rules demand, the FT reported. A Bank of England spokeswoman said the central bank had no immediate comment.
Brexit: Belgium tells companies to halt exports to UK after March 29
Belgium’s customs authority is advising companies that export to the UK to halt shipments after Brexit day to avoid customs chaos in the event of a no-deal scenario. Kristian Vanderwaeren, chief executive of Belgian customs, called for a “Brexitpauze” after 29 March and said firms should do as much of their exporting as they can before new controls have to come in. “Who are we as customs to give the business world instructions? But we are still asking the SMEs and all other parties to wait. Do the necessary export to your customers before 29 March,” he told Belgian business newspaper De Tijd.
Trading slips away from London ahead of Brexit
Few expect London to lose its position as Europe’s biggest financial hub, but Britain’s departure from the EU is turning into a multibillion-euro boost for the bloc’s protracted efforts to build a deeper capital market to rival the UK capital.
Administrative Fall Out
Northern Ireland businesses voice fears of 'no deal' Brexit
More than 50 businesses have written an open letter to MPs expressing concern over the prospect of a 'no deal' Brexit. Local businesses believe that the failure to approve a deal with Europe on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will have significant repercussions for the local economy. Such a scenario will both hinder indigenous and foreign direct investment, it would result in significant job losses and will stifle opportunities for the next generation across Northern Ireland.
No-deal Brexit could damage Scotland’s housing sector, minister warns
A no-deal Brexit could cause serious problems for Scotland’s housing sector, the housing minister has warned. Kevin Stewart will say that leaving the EU without a deal could damage investor confidence in residential assets and the build-to-rent market when he writes to housing organisations and stakeholders next week. He will also say that inflation and interest rate fluctuation could affect rents, the financial health of Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) and the availability and cost of finance for new-build homes.
Business owner fights back tears whilst talking about the damage that Brexit could do to her company
With just 20 days to go until Brexit and still no deal in sight or any idea as to what on Earth is going on, British people are starting to get worried.
Science has dim view of Brexit voters’ brains
Researchers gave 11,225 volunteers psychological tests before the referendum and asked how they intended to vote. Results suggest that leavers tended to be less numerate, more impulsive and more prone to accept the unsupported claims of authoritarian figures. “Compared with remain voters, leave voters displayed significantly lower levels of numeracy and appeared more reliant on impulsive thinking,” said the researchers. The study was commissioned by Britain’s Online Privacy Foundation and analysed by scientists at Missouri University.
Brexit: NI consumer faces 'dip in living standard'
Consumers could face rising costs post-Brexit, a retail expert has warned. NI Retail Consortium director Aodhán Connolly said a no-deal Brexit would mean a rise in household costs. Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's On Your Behalf, he said he had heard of a small amount of stockpiling, but advised people not to panic buy. Mr Connolly was one of a panel of experts who addressed Brexit concerns at the Consumer Council's consumer parliament in Belfast on Friday.
Police banned from taking holiday ahead of Brexit as Met fear 'civil disorder'
Restrictions have been put in place to stop police officers taking annual leave as the Brexit deadline draws ever-closer. The move, according to police chiefs, will mean there will be “sufficient officers and staff available” to deal with any issues that may arise from Brexit. The Metropolitan Police has “placed restrictions” on the amount of leave their staff can take, as well as other forces such as Hampshire Police. Officers said restrictions apply to “certain dates in March and April 2019”, though they told Sky News they would not be cancelling all holiday for officers. It said the measure was to “allow the service to have sufficient officers and staff available to deal with any issues arising from the UK leaving the EU”.
German port casts anxious eye across the sea at Brexit
...back in Cuxhaven, both Mr Zint and Mr Barth sounded confident that even a no-deal Brexit would leave their business broadly intact. But they — like much of the rest of German business — found it hard to hide their bewilderment at the political course set by the UK. Mr Zint said: “When you see that the head of Airbus questions whether the company can still have production in the UK, or when Honda says they will close their plant, you would expect that more people would voice their concerns regarding Brexit.”
'Stockpiling for no-deal Brexit buffers my family from risks'
A Sky Data poll has revealed 28% of people are stockpiling in preparation for a no-deal Brexit, or have thought about doing so. In Cornwall, Nevine Mann and her family have been buying extra food and supplies since last summer to make sure she is prepared if there is no deal as Britain leaves the European Union.
Nobel-winner Paul Nurse on Brexit: ‘The UK is turning in on itself’
Scientists fear the UK has lost its way because of Brexit, and scientific research could suffer as a result, the head of the UK’s biggest biomedical research lab has warned. Nobel prize-winner Paul Nurse said scientists were concerned that the UK’s decision to leave the EU was driven by the country becoming less outward-looking. “The motivation for Brexit seems to be a turning in of the country on itself. Turning away from the rest of the world, not just Europe. And science thrives on the exact opposite,” the former Royal Society president told New Scientist.
French customs strike delays Eurostar, airports ahead of Brexit
As French customs officers staged the sixth day of a work-to-rule strike this Saturday, airport officers joined customs workers in charge of Eurostar trains and of the Channel port of Calais, sparking travel chaos throughout the week. Eurostar trains from Paris to London were running up to two hours late, trucks were stacked up on the approaches to the Channel port of Calais and long lines were reported in airports across France on Saturday. As the Brexit deadline of March 29 approaches, French customs officers are demanding higher pay and better working conditions with actions all over France.
Online shopping after Brexit: Higher prices, slower deliveries
Rocketing prices, customs hold-ups, delivery delays, obstacles to returning unwanted purchases and a dramatic curtailment in the retail choices and rights available to Irish consumers are just some of the problems online shoppers here may be hit with if the UK crashes out of the European Union without a deal in three weeks’ time.
Of Civil Wars and Family Feuds: Brexit Is More Divisive Than Ever
Like the election of President Trump, the 2016 Brexit referendum vote crystallized divisions between cities and towns, young and old, the beneficiaries of globalization and those left behind. And far from fading, the Brexit divide seems to have become entrenched within many British workplaces, families and social circles. The divide shows no sign of narrowing.
Brexit casts cloud over British holidaymakers’ plans
The Brexit effect is beginning to cast a shadow over a traditional aspect of British life: holidaymakers’ pursuit of European sun. With concerns rising about a no-deal Brexit that could involve border delays, the travel industry is reporting that UK consumers have changed their behaviour in recent weeks. Data from the research group GfK show that summer bookings for overseas holidays from the UK were rising until the last week in January. But since then there have been falls of 9-10 per cent when compared with the same weeks last year.
Female EU citizens in UK fear post-Brexit discrimination as system is confused by maiden names
Women from EU countries living in the UK fear discrimination after Brexit because the registration system is confused by their maiden names. The glitch will be place them in danger of being denied jobs, housing or NHS treatment, campaigners say – even after being given “settled status” to stay with a promise of protected rights. The warning is being issued to coincide with International Women’s Day, as part of wider fears that Brexit will be a “trap” for abused women, those who work part-time or have taken career breaks.
'No decision' on post-Brexit environment body for NI
Civil servants have said they have not taken a decision on whether to extend an independent environmental protection agency to Northern Ireland post-Brexit. That is in spite of publication of a letter from a senior official that appeared to indicate it was to happen. In it he said the extension of proposed legislation covering England to include Northern Ireland had been sought and agreed.
No-deal Brexit threat to 'billions of pounds' of chemicals
A no-deal Brexit threatens billions of pounds of chemical imports, the head of the Chemical Industries Association, Stephen Elliott, has warned. He says secondary legislation, needed to copy EU regulations into UK law, contains "significant gaps". The loophole could halt UK imports of chemicals by EU-registered companies from countries outside the EU, he says. "Put simply, the drugs don't work, the cars don't run and the planes don't fly without chemicals and chemistry." Unless the law is changed, he says, the import of "billions of pounds worth of chemicals," used across UK manufacturing, would have to come to a sudden halt if the UK left the EU with no deal on 29 March
Geneva motor show: Brexit, electric cars and luxury dominate agenda
BMW gave a clear signal that a no-deal Brexit, in which trade defaults to World Trade Organization terms, including tariffs on cars and parts, could prove destructive for the British car industry. BMW’s Mini brand would face a “huge burden”, according to the board member Peter Schwarzenbauer, which might make it consider moving out of its Cowley plant in Oxford. Top executives from Toyota, Bentley and Vauxhall’s owner, PSA all expressed similar concerns about short and longer-term costs if barriers to trade between the UK and EU are erected. Maxime Picat, PSA’s operational director for Europe, said: “It’s difficult for me to imagine that you can rebuild a UK automotive industry, self-centred, looking only at the UK.”
UK minister says migrant workers may still be allowed to come to work in tourism industry after Brexit
A UK Brexit minister has said special allowance could be made for migrant workers to come and fill jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry if it can be shown they are needed. On a visit to Edinburgh, Tory peer Lord Callanan, who has been number two at the Brexit department since 2017, said freedom of movement would end when the UK leaves the EU but the government was still consulting on what immigration rules should then apply. “If there is a necessity for immigration in certain sectors that is one of the things we will take into 
Privatising the seas: how the UK turned fishing rights into a commodity
In the early 90s – against the wishes of the main fishermen’s organisations – the government formalised the right of “sector” fishermen to move licences and track records between vessels, opening up a new kind of trade in quota. Detaching track record from vessels in this way ensured quota taken out of the pool would never come back to it. This was followed by other deregulatory moves, like the liberalisation of quota “swaps” between POs. In 1999, the UK replaced track records with “fixed quota allocations”, which give the holder an unchanging share of the UK’s quota. These were dished out to vessels in the sector based on their catches in the mid-nineties. This change discouraged the “race to fish”, but also made quota easier to swap, sell or lease to others.
Political Shenanigans
Tories under attack after tax haven donations
Theresa May is facing growing pressure over more than £1 million raised by her party from Britons based in tax havens and their UK companies before the 2017 general election. Senior MPs said that the prime minister had “serious questions to answer” about the money, which was accepted even though a law was passed in 2009 that was meant to clamp down on donations from offshore. The bill banned large personal donations from anyone not resident or domiciled in the UK for tax purposes but successive governments have failed to enact it with a commencement order.
Theresa May desperately attempts to salvage Brexit deal with 48 hours before critical Commons vote
Theresa May has been warned she could be forced out of Downing Street if her Brexit strategy is dismantled by MPs this week in a series of critical votes. As negotiations entered the eleventh hour, the prime minister was desperately attempting to salvage her withdrawal deal, with a plane reported to be on standby at RAF Northolt to fly her to Brussels at the first sign of EU officials shifting their position. However, it remained unclear whether the prime minister would be making a dash to the Belgian capital, as hopes of achieving any significant concessions appeared to fade.
Tony Blair secretly advising Emmanuel Macron on Brexit as former PM accused of 'unacceptable' behaviour
Tony Blair has been accused of “unacceptable” behaviour after it emerged he has been briefing Emmanuel Macron on how to force Britain to stay in the EU. The former Labour prime minister believes that if the EU stands its ground over the Brexit deal, Parliament will cave in and accept a customs union - which would keep Britain yoked to Brussels - or a second referendum that could cancel Brexit altogether. Sources in Paris confirmed to The Telegraph that Mr Blair had been speaking to the French President about Brexit. He is reported to have told Mr Macron to “hold firm” and wait for events to play out in London that end in Britain staying in the EU.
Keir Starmer: Why we'll vote down Theresa May's Brexit deal for a second time
If Theresa May’s deal is rejected by Parliament again on Tuesday, it will be another humiliation for her, her Government and for our country too. I know how frustrated people are with this situation. These past two years we’ve been badly let down by an incapable Prime Minister and an incompetent Government too busy fighting with itself to focus on what is in the best interests of the country. After two years of failure, we need a change of approach.
Brexit: Could the UK drop tariffs to zero?
MPs are set to hold key votes next week on the terms of Brexit, the outcome of which could determine whether the UK has greater flexibility to set its own trade tariffs.
Brexit: Britain does not want long delay, reveals poll on eve of votes
A long delay to Brexit would be unacceptable to a majority of the British public, according to an exclusive poll days before critical votes in the House of Commons. Some 52 per cent of people do not want a delay to last more than six months, the survey by BMG Research for The Independent indicated. The data flies in the face of extensions advocated in Brussels, by Remainers and even some Brexiteers. They have talked about pushing back the date of the UK’s departure for a year or more – something supported by fewer than one in five, according to the survey.
Torrid Brexit backstop talks descend into Twitter duel
Michel Barnier's unveiling of his proposals on a social media platform was highly unusual. Sources said it was because of fear of a cynical blame game over the faltering talks. “That’s why he published the proposals on Twitter to show he was exploring avenues and not just saying no to everything,” a source said.
Brexit secretary met Labour MPs championing second referendum
The cabinet minister in charge of Brexit has held detailed talks with Labour MPs who are championing plans for a second referendum – amid signs of mounting desperation inside Theresa May’s government about what to do if the prime minister’s deal suffers another crushing defeat on Tuesday. At least 40 Labour MPs – and all but about nine Tories – are said to be opposed to a second referendum, although party sources believe this would change if Jeremy Corbyn came out strongly in favour.
Brexit could be lost if deal rejected, Jeremy Hunt says
Conservative MPs should back Theresa May's deal this week or risk losing Brexit altogether, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned. There was "wind in the sails" of those opposing Brexit and the consequences for the party will be "devastating", if it is not delivered, he said. MPs will vote again on the deal on Tuesday, after rejecting it in January.
Don’t vote for May’s deal, it will only usher in more austerity
After weeks of non-announcements and paltry incentives to persuade MPs in towns ravaged by government neglect, nothing has changed. This is the same bad Brexit deal that went down to the worst parliamentary defeat in history. It’s why Labour MPs should reject it again. The government’s own forecasts show that acceptance of these terms would be set to lower GDP by £100bn – the equivalent of losing the annual output of Wales. Whatever is gained from reduced EU contributions would be wiped out by the economic damage.
Pressure mounts on Theresa May to quit to save Brexit deal
Theresa May faced mounting pressure to quit on Sunday as Conservative Eurosceptic rebels claimed she might have to sacrifice her premiership to win them over ahead of a crucial Brexit vote this week. Several cabinet ministers have said Mrs May should announce her plans to resign to win the support of Tory Brexiters, who believe that a change in Number 10 would signal a more robust approach to talks on a future UK/EU trade deal.
Jess Phillips: ‘I think I’d be a good prime minister’
She’s famous for her witty takedowns of the political class but Jess Phillips is also dealing with so many death threats she has nine locks on her front door. The MP, who had her first child when she was 22 and grew up with a brother who was a heroin addict, tells Rachel Sylvester where she thinks her party is going wrong
While Theresa May’s Brexit deal is far from perfect, the alternatives would be a shameful betrayal of voters
The Sun on Sunday said MPs must this week rally around Theresa May’s Brexit deal – it is the only way the UK can achieve a dignified departure from the EU and honour the will of the people.
By the end of the week we could have no deal, no Brexit or no PM
Most agree that the prime minister is close to losing control of events. “By the end of the week we could have no deal, no Brexit or no prime minister,” one cabinet source said. Stuck between the rock of an EU reluctant to budge and the hard place of a parliament tiring of her kicking the can down the road, May faces a new plot this weekend by MPs to grab control of events and force her towards a soft Brexit.
The Guardian view on MPs and Brexit: time to set a new course
Northern Ireland is again at the very heart of the Conservative government’s Brexit crisis. This is not an accident. It is there essentially because Theresa May’s government is committed to three things that cannot be reconciled. One is the peace process promise that Brexit would do nothing to restore a hard border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The second is the promise that Mrs May made in 2017 to the DUP that there would be no regulatory divergence in the Irish Sea. The third is the Tory’s right’s doctrinaire passion for leaving the EU single market and customs union, which Mrs May very foolishly made into Brexit red lines.
A Mysterious Hard Brexit Group Run By A Young Tory Writer Is Now Britain’s Biggest Spending Political Campaign On Facebook
Tim Dawson is the only person publicly associated with Britain's Future. The group has spent almost £350,000 on Facebook since November, raising questions over the influence of "dark money" at a crucial point in the Brexit process.
Brexit: The Cox Gambit, the Barnier Response, and the Blame Game begins
The price the UK would have to pay for walking away, would be reverting to the original Northern Ireland-specific backstop Theresa May rejected one year ago, something quickly recognised by the DUP’s Nigel Dodds. Officials in Brussels describe Barnier’s offer as "defensive", brought about by sense of shock over what Geoffrey Cox was proposing, and the exaggerated expectations in Westminster over what the EU would be prepared to offer.
The Government cannot fool the voters over Brexit
May’s speech in Grimsby yesterday was a waste of time. The PM rehearsed the case for her Withdrawal Agreement and urged MPs to vote for it on Tuesday, but the EU hasn’t given her the changes necessary to appease Brexiteers and it is still likely to be defeated. In fact, the political situation hasn’t altered since the Chequers agreement of July last year. Since then the Government has been going round and round in circles, trying to sell the same Brexit-in-name-only. Leavers say “no”; the Government seeks alterations; the EU says “non”, too. The public, meanwhile, watches the dance in disbelief.
Thornberry: We want short delay to avoid EU election
Labour will oppose any delay to Brexit that will require Britain to take part in the European parliament elections, Emily Thornberry has said. Theresa May has promised to give MPs the chance to ask Brussels to extend Article 50 if they vote down her agreement on Tuesday. Remaining in the EU beyond July, however, will require the UK to take part in the elections due to be held in May, which the prime minister has said she is determined to avoid.
Brexit: EU says Britain can leave backstop but Northern Ireland must stay
The offer by Mr Barnier for a unilateral exit for Great Britain, but not Northern Ireland effectively lets the UK revert to the original EU plan for the backstop – which would have put customs checks on the Irish sea between Northern Ireland and the mainland. “[The new offer is] basically going back to the old backstop,” one EU official said of the plan, which does not require the reopening of the withdrawal agreement.
UK minister warns of violence in case of no-deal Brexit
David Gauke, the U.K.'s secretary of state for justice, said a no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for the country, including the immediate ending of U.K.-EU cooperation on vital law enforcement issues. "In the worst-case scenario if we had significant difficulties with food supplies no one is going to be left starving but if there are empty shelves, can that result in violence and more criminal cases?" he said in an interview with the Times published Saturday. "Of course it can.”
UK minister rejects Barnier’s Irish backstop reassurances
Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the U.K.'s House of Commons, on Saturday dismissed efforts by the European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to offer a solution to the Brexit impasse and avoid a hard border in Ireland, calling his statement "disappointing."
We’re back to the DUP as the touchstone for a Brexit deal
As often happens in difficult negotiations, the parties become fixated on a technical details they fancy – often wrongly – will clear a roadblock. This is called synecdoche, substituting a part for whole which is too big to contemplate . It has its psychological attractions as it diverts from the greater intractability.
Leaked memo reveals ministers warned of Brexit plot to keep UK in permanent customs union with EU
Ministers have been warned that MPs supporting an amendment to delay Brexit could “politicise the monarchy” and lead to a “full blown constitutional crisis” causing the Government to “lose its ability to govern” according to leaked documents seen by the Telegraph. The explosive memo advising the cabinet as Theresa May battles to win Tuesday’s second meaningful vote - warns that supporting any amendment re-tabled by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Tories Oliver Letwin and Nick Boles could pave the way for a bill to change the day of our EU exit and bind the Government into a permanent customs union.
UK realising EU is dominant power in Europe and Brexit will be on its terms
The EU has accomodated the UK's demands but never prioritised them above the rights of the remaining 27 member states. So it has pursued 3 goals: demonstrate the centrality of the EU in governing transnational relations in Europe; membership matters and brings benefits; safeguard the union as a rules-based system
Brexit: One more push needed to get deal through, says May
Theresa May has asked the EU for "one more push" to get her Brexit deal through Parliament and warned that, if it fails, "we may never leave at all". The prime minister said the UK had tabled "serious" proposals to resolve the deadlock over the Irish backstop. Warning of a "moment of crisis" if the deal was rejected again, the PM told EU leaders: "Let's get it done." The EU said it would give "legal force" to assurances already made that the UK could not be stuck in a customs union.
Billions on offer by backing May’s Brexit deal, says Hammond
Philip Hammond has urged Eurosceptic Conservatives to stop agonising about the so-called Irish backstop and swing behind Theresa May’s Brexit deal, saying its approval would allow him to release billions of pounds for stretched public services. The chancellor said in an interview that the backstop plans in the agreement, which could force the UK into an EU customs union as a last resort to avoid a hard Irish border, were not “real world problems”. Eurosceptics fear the measure could lock Britain into close ties with Brussels in perpetuity.
Theresa May ON BRINK: Iain Dale explains why PM’s downfall is close on BBC Newsnight
Theresa May might not be Prime Minister by the end of April, political commentator and broadcaster Iain Dale argued on BBC Newsnight on Friday. Mr Dale used a lengthy intervention on the current affairs programme to explain the precise course of action he believes will spell Mrs May’s demise. He started by examining the most likely course of action when the Prime Minister brings her much-beleaguered deal before the House of Commons again next week. MPs are due to vote on the plan on Tuesday, March 12. If Mrs May’s deal does not go through Parliament France and Lithuania have indicated they would veto an extension to Article 50. The only option France has hinted at is a two-year delay period, which would be completely unpalatable to Brexiteers in the Commons. Mr Dale added, “in any of these scenarios” he does not believe Theresa May could be Prime Minister by the end of April.
Brexit: EU chief Michel Barnier sparks anger by revealing his 'offer' to UK
Tonight Mr Barnier said the EU would commit to letting the UK exit the backstop - but only one part of it, a shared customs union with the EU. That means the other provisions would have to stay - a move critics say will divide Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. Furious Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay hit back on Twitter within minutes, tweeting: "With a very real deadline looming, now is not the time to rerun old arguments.
CEREAL PLOTTER Jeremy Hunt holding secret breakfast meetings with ministers as he bids to become PM
Jeremy Hunt is now seen as the frontrunner to replace Theresa May, having significantly stepped up his leadership bid with secret breakfasts for Cabinet ministers. The Sun has learned that the Foreign Secretary is billing himself as the unity candidate as he tries to woo MPs, making different pitches to Leavers and Remainers. As speculation spirals among Tory MPs that the Brexit crisis could force the PM to resign within weeks, Mr Hunt is even said to have started to ask senior ministers what jobs they want in his Cabinet in exchange for their backing.
Political Setbacks
Theresa May desperately attempts to salvage Brexit deal with 48 hours before critical Commons vote
Theresa May has been warned she could be forced out of Downing Street if her Brexit strategy is dismantled by MPs this week in a series of critical votes. As negotiations entered the eleventh hour, the prime minister was desperately attempting to salvage her withdrawal deal, with a plane reported to be on standby at RAF Northolt to fly her to Brussels at the first sign of EU officials shifting their position. However, it remained unclear whether the prime minister would be making a dash to the Belgian capital, as hopes of achieving any significant concessions appeared to fade.
EU prepares to demand multi-billion pound increase on divorce payment from Britain in return for Brexit delay
he EU is preparing to impose punitive conditions on Britain as its price for agreeing a Brexit delay if Theresa May is forced to ask for an extension this week. Member states are “hardening” their attitudes towards a delay and will demand “legal and financial conditions” including a multi-billion pound increase to the £39bn divorce payment. With no signs of a breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations to change the existing exit deal, Parliament is expected to reject the deal for a second time on Tuesday, before voting later in the week to extend Article 50.
No majority support for Theresa May's deal in any constituency, analysis shows
The new constituency-by-constituency model based on YouGov polling for the People's Vote campaign of more than 25,000 voters presents grim reading for Downing Street ahead of Tuesday's "meaningful vote" on Ms May's Brexit agreement. If "don't knows" are excluded from the polling, which was conducted in January, the results add that there is a majority support in just two constituencies in England, Scotland and Wales for the prime minister's deal.
Corbyn's bullying Labour party is dashing the hopes of the young
The culture of bullying, intolerance and division is a betrayal of the hopes that young people had invested in Corbyn, the Pied Piper of Labour who turns 70 in May. As long as he remains leader, the divisions can only deepen.
Brexit delay would be political calamity, say
Two leading Brexiteers have said any delay to Brexit would do "incalculable" harm to public trust in politics. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Tory MP Steve Baker and the DUP's Nigel Dodds said the "extended uncertainty" would be a "political calamity".
Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins and his team ran up a £140k bill for travel and hotels in three months
Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins and his team ran up a £140,000 bill for travel and hotels in three months, government figures reveal. Best for Britain boss Eloise Todd said: “This is a huge waste of money. “In the short space of three months, the government spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on travel and accommodation to negotiate a deal that was defeated by an historic margin. “It makes no sense to carry on spending like this when there are plenty of other priorities.”
Arron Banks broke agreement to suspend Brexit campaigning after Jo Cox murder, investigation finds
Arron Banks flouted an agreement to suspend Brexit campaigning after the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, according to an investigation by Channel 4 News. Nigel Farage’s ally ordered Leave.EU team to “up the spend” on Facebook and “press it harder”, emails obtained by the programme reveal – the morning after the killing that shocked the nation. Channel 4 said the emails also showed a Leave.EU press officer drafted a press release accusing the media of politicising Ms Cox’s murder for the Remain side, but in the name of the Labour Leave campaign group.
Green MP Caroline Lucas brands Theresa May 'shameless' over Brexit, and says she thinks PM will call second referendum
Leading People’s Vote campaigner Caroline Lucas today delivered the verdict that Theresa May will call a second Brexit referendum once she is "boxed into a corner" over her Withdrawal Agreement. Green MP Ms Lucas pointed to the Prime Minister's "shameless" history of U-turns, predicting Mrs May will offer a second vote "when it suits her".
Seamus Milne and Corbyn aide blocked anti-semitism suspensions
Two of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest aides directly intervened to lift the suspension of an activist accused of anti-semitism, according to leaked emails. Seumas Milne, the Labour leader’s director of strategy and communications, told party officials to reinstate Glyn Secker after two of them had ruled that he be kicked out for joining a Facebook group where members posted messages denying the Holocaust. Milne stepped in after Andrew Murray, another aide to Corbyn who is also the Unite union’s chief of staff, stated that the leader himself was “interested in this one”. Secker was readmitted to the party shortly afterwards.
Minister claims 'only two' members of Cabinet still support Theresa May as she faces growing pressure to quit
heresa May is facing increasing pressure to resign within weeks after it was claimed she has lost the backing of all but two of her Cabinet ministers. The Prime Minister has already said she will not contest the 2022 general election, but her ministers want her gone by July so that a new leader can conduct the next phase of the Brexit negotiations if Britain avoids a no deal exit. Members of the Cabinet have privately discussed whether they should tell her at the end of this week that her time is up, after what is expected to be a series of disastrous votes in Parliament.
Why are our MPs putting blatant self-interest ahead of the Brexit vote?
There are no risk-free options now, no steady-as-she- goes, old-fashioned British compromise. The whole issue has to be reframed, re-energised and rescued from its present captivity. Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, told Marr that the deal’s failure this week would risk “Brexit paralysis”. But where do he and his colleagues imagine we are right now?
Mark Drakeford: Tory 'arrogance' could damage UK
The Conservatives' "arrogance" could lead to the "unravelling" of the UK, according to Wales' first minister. Mark Drakeford said the party's "grace and favour" attitude to devolution could put the UK's future in danger. He said that Labour was a "dedicated devolutionist party". "In the end it is the so-called unionists who pose the greatest threat to the union of the United Kingdom," he said, speaking at the Scottish Labour Party conference in Dundee.
Mike Russell: Jeremy Hunt perfectly symbolises Westminster arrogance
It was hardly surprising that Jeremy Hunt should be at it again this week in Glasgow, when he contemptuously claimed that “of course” the UK Government would refuse any request for a Section 30 order from the Scottish Government. What was incredible, however, was what followed, when he advised the Scottish Government to concentrate on delivering in the areas of health and education instead.
Brexit: £3.5m adverts ask EU citizens to stay
Ministers are to launch a £3.5 million advertising campaign within weeks to encourage people from the European Union to secure their status in Britain after Brexit. About 3.7 million EU citizens live in this country and the information campaign will focus particularly on areas where a large number of them live. The first phase will begin days before the full launch of the settlement application process. The campaign will include advertising on billboards and bus stops and at railway stations. There will be adverts on radio, catch-up TV and websites and on social media.
Corbyn keeps trying to dodge a Final Say – he should realise we’re best served staying in the EU
It seems Jeremy Corbyn is sifting through the Brexit allsorts, desperate to find any alternative to the one he doesn’t like: a people’s vote. His latest dodge is to throw his support behind a Norway-plus option. This would essentially see the UK join the European Economic Area (EEA), whose members are bound by many European laws, but without any influence over their content. This would represent a serious and significant loss of sovereignty.
Delay Brexit to save environment, green charities urge PM
Five leading green organisations have called on Theresa May to delay Brexit to avoid losing environmental protections created by “decades of campaigning”. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace UK, Green Alliance, E3G and ChemTrust have said the prime minister should try to extend article 50 because the government has failed to live up to its promise that existing environmental standards would be maintained or even enhanced.
The left-wing case for Brexit is becoming more ridiculous by the day
So let me get this straight: a Brexit driven by a hard right-wing Tory government is just what we need to protect workers’ rights, health and safety and the environment? The Centre for Policy Studies powers the thought behind hard Brexiteer plans, protecting workers’ rights, health and safety and the environment would simply get torn to pieces in future even more right wing Tory administrations
Parliament will suffer a terrible backlash if Brexit doesn't happen on time
Theresa May's speech in Grimsby yesterday was a waste of time. The political situation hasn’t altered since the Chequers agreement of July last year. Since then the Government has been going round and round in circles, trying to sell the same Brexit-in-name-only. Leavers say “no”; the Government seeks alterations; the EU says “non”, too. The public, meanwhile, watches the dance in disbelief.
UK minister warns of violence in case of no-deal Brexit
The failure to secure a deal to leave the European Union may lead to violence on British streets, according to a senior British lawmaker. David Gauke, the U.K.'s secretary of state for justice, said a no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for the country, including the immediate ending of U.K.-EU cooperation on vital law enforcement issues.
No-deal Brexit will be the UK’s fault, not the EU’s – leader comment
Hunt should be doing everything he can to ensure the UK and EU do indeed remain “the best of friends” – given our main alternatives include Trump’s America, China and Russia. His attempt to shift blame onto the EU for what would be the UK’s failure sounds worryingly like the Government has given up hope for May’s deal and already started its no-deal PR campaign with a “blame Brussels” theme. If it happens, a no-deal Brexit, followed by a recession so bad it could affect the global economy, will be no one’s fault but our own.
It would be a mistake for Tory rebels to back May’s Brexit deal
Yesterday, in Grimsby, she turned to her own backbenchers, telling them: “Reject [the deal] and no-one knows what will happen. We may not leave the EU for many months. We may leave without the protections a deal provides, we may never leave at all.” She is of course right: no-one knows what will happen on Tuesday nor in the coming three weeks before 29 March. It does her no credit that she has allowed it to get to such a late stage with businesses still having no idea how to prepare for Brexit, or no Brexit. But one thing is for sure: hard Brexit or no Brexit at all, May’s deal was and remains the worst of all worlds.
May Could Lose Tuesday's Brexit Vote by Huge Margin, Times Says
Theresa May’s aides are increasingly concerned that Tuesday’s vote on her Brexit deal could result in an even worse humiliation than she endured in a similar vote in January, the Sunday Times reported. The majority against the government then was 230, the biggest defeat for a prime minister in more than a century. “It’s bloody bad,” the Times cited one of her aides as saying. “We are at Defcon 2.”
Brexit: Leave Means Leave features 63-year-old Wetherspoon's owner in campaign aimed at young people
Just last week their Ladies For Leave campaign was ridiculed for using gender as a means for supporting Brexit, despite women overwhelmingly voting to stay in the EU. Now they are back with a new video aimed at young people and are aiming to highlight the many benefits for young people outside of the EU, despite 71 per cent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 voting for Remain in the 2016 referendum. The three prominent speakers in the promotional video are all white men and have a combined age of 122, which is hardly what we would call 'young.'
Three-quarters of newly eligible voters would back remain in second poll
Some 87% of people who were too young to cast a ballot in the 2016 Brexit referendum but have since reached voting age would “definitely” take part if a second public vote were called, according to a new poll. And of the estimated 2 million new young voters, 74% would back remain. The survey, carried out by BMG on behalf of the anti-Brexit youth groups Our Future, Our Choice and For Our Future’s Sake, suggests the youth vote would be crucial in any second remain campaign and could significantly boost its chances of overturning the 2016 leave result.
Arron Banks 'ignored deal to stop pro-Brexit ads' after Jo Cox death
Channel 4 News said it had seen email sent the morning after Cox’s murder from Banks, Leave.EU’s key financial backer, to his assistant Liz Bilney, the campaign group’s chief executive, that read: “Keep pumping the McKenna video” and “up the Spend A”. The campaign had enlisted the TV hypnotist Paul McKenna to advise on its broadcasts. Bilney replied to Banks: “Yes that’s starting to get traction now and with paid advertising and no active campaigning could get a lot of take up today.” Banks responded: “Exactly – press it harder.”
The more we learn about Brexit, the more crooked it looks
By the relatively low-spending standards of British politics, Banks was a huge donor, giving $11 million of his own money to the Brexit cause and raising an additional $5 million on top. And here's the peculiarly British part of the story: Thanks to Banks's extensive use of tax havens and shell companies, it has never been entirely clear where all of that money came from — or even whether all of it was really his.
UK government refuses to reveal how it will use EU citizens' data ahead of Brexit
1) EU citizens could be deterred from applying to remain in the UK after Brexit due to fears over how the UK government will use information collected during the application process. 2) The Home Office has refused repeated requests from privacy and transparency campaigners to reveal information about the new settled status scheme for EU citizens living in the UK. 3) Around 3 million EU citizens currently live in the country. 4) Campaigners suggest government secrecy about the issue could be breaking the law.
For business, no-deal Brexit has already hit...Three weeks before Brexit day, the costs of no-deal are mounting by the day.
Industry has spent hundreds of millions on contingency plans it will not be able to recoup even if a last-minute deal can be done, and U.K. firms are already reporting drops in sales, exports and investment. Farmers are also watching contract orders for this year's harvest dry up. The findings are backed up by U.K. government figures showing that domestic business investment has fallen for three consecutive quarters. The last time business investment fell for more than two quarters was in the aftermath of the 2008 economic crash.
Worried about Brexit? What, with these geniuses in charge?
Exiting the EU is a job for the country's brightest minds. They weren't available, says Guardian columnist Marina Hyde, who then tears into the Ministers in charge of Brexit in a humourous manner
Brexit: 'Home Office should lose its immigration duties'
The Home Office is the wrong department to manage immigration after Brexit, says a highly critical report by the Institute for Government (IfG) thinktank. “The failure to make trade-offs, decide priorities and articulate objectives has damaged public confidence and made it impossible for government to run the system effectively,” it said, adding that the Home Office set up increases its ineffectiveness.
Brexit: Will Self and Mark Francois in TV stare-off
Tempers rose in the BBC's Politics Live studio over voting in the EU referendum, leading to quite a stare-off between author Will Self and Tory MP Mark Francois.
No matter what happens with Brexit, this toxic environment must end
Part of what the prime minister is banking on is Brexit fatigue, and the understandable public annoyance that MPs haven’t been able to sort the issue growing. I think a people’s vote could solve that, but even then, to hold a referendum responsibly will require a degree of respect between people on all sides of the debate. We must end this toxic environment, or no matter where we end up with Europe, our country will be divided for generations to come.
Lord Trimble: Brexit challenge cannot be heard yet
Lawyers for Lord Trimble have told him that his Brexit legal challenge cannot be heard in court at this stage. He is attempting to challenge the legality of the backstop, arguing it breaches the Good Friday Agreement. They argued that the case was not capable of being argued in court because no final decision has yet been taken on the backstop and therefore there is nothing for a court to review.
Labour peers launch extraordinary attack on Jeremy Corbyn over 'political failure' on anti-semitism
Labour peers have launched an astonishing attack on Jeremy Corbyn and condemned his “political failure” to tackle anti-semitism in the party. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission yesterday said Labour may have “unlawfully discriminated” against people because of their religious beliefs. Its announcement came as it emerged senior officials in the leader’s office had advised complaints teams over how to act in disciplinary cases.
Comment: MPs vote is merely end of Act One in Brexit saga
Irrespective of the route MPs opt to take next week, businesses exhausted by Brexit and hoping Parliament will finally deliver a conclusion to the drama may be sadly disappointed. Even if a deal is passed, this is really only akin to reaching base camp. Thereafter, the UK must embark on a precarious ascent towards agreeing its future relationship with the EU, whilst also working to strike trade deals with countries around the world.