Archive for December, 2017

News review – Monday 11 December 2017

News review – Monday 11 December 2017

Brexit

Times
Britain could be forced to accept swathes of Brussels red tape if it is to secure the extensive trade deal that David Davis is championing, senior European sources have told The Times. Yesterday the Brexit secretary outlined his vision for “Canada-plus plus plus”, a trade settlement with the European Union that would cover services as well as trade in goods. The deal would be bespoke, he said, signalling that it would go further than the agreement signed last year between Canada and the EU, which removed most customs duties on exports from both sides.

Express
THERESA MAY should demand a “gold-plated” trade deal from the EU or proclaim it can wave any multi-billion pound pay-off goodbye. Last night senior Brexiteers said the recent breakthrough in negotiations had strengthened Britain’s hand – and it is now time to act. Crucial talks are set to start on Britain’s future relationship with the EU this week, with MPs claiming the behaviour of Brussels’ negotiators revealed that they both “need and want” a free-trade deal with the UK. The 15-page agreement – which satisfied the condition of “sufficient progress” being made on citizens rights, Northern Ireland and the financial settlement – entrenched Mrs May’s caveat that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. It also means Britain can withdraw its offer of paying up to £39billion to the EU if no deal is reached.

Independent
Theresa May will tell Parliament there is a “new sense of optimism” in the Brexit talks following Friday’s agreement with the EU over phase one of the negotiations. In a statement to the House of Commons today, she will say she stuck to her principles on Brexit, and that Friday’s deal is “not about hard Brexit or soft Brexit” but consistent to the objectives set out in her Lancaster House speech earlier this year. The agreement involves an expected exit bill of around £39bn, the continuing jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in certain UK issues until 2027 and and “full alignment” with the EU on issues that affect Northern Ireland. The Prime Minister will say: “I believe there is a new sense of optimism now in the talks and I fully hope and expect that we will confirm the arrangements I have set out today in the European Council later this week. “In doing so we can move on to building the bold new economic and security relationships that can underpin the new deep and special partnership we all want to see – a partnership between the European Union and a sovereign United Kingdom that has taken control of its borders, money and laws once again.”

Independent
Brexit Secretary David Davis has said the UK can have a “Canada plus plus plus” trade deal with the EU after Brexit. He said the deal would involve “Canada plus the best of Japan, the best of South Korea and that the bit that is missing, which is the services”. His words come as non-EU countries are reported to have told the EU that the UK should not be given a trade agreement that is favourable to other “third countries”. No non-EU member state has negotiated trade terms with the EU that extends to services, particularly financial services. Asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr about the kind of deal the UK would seek with the EU the Brexit Secretary said: “Canada plus plus plus would be one way of putting it.” Mr Davis said that the agreement that was reached on Friday over the first phase of the negotiations meant that “the odds of a WTO, no-deal outcome have dropped dramatically”. He said a deal with the European Union could be signed “the minute after” the UK formally leaves the EU in March 2019. EU officials have cautioned the process is likely to take years.  

Breitbart
A former Brexit minister has said the formula Theresa May has agreed with the EU for calculating the UK’s supposed liabilities could result in a bill as high as £100 billion. David Jones MP, who led the Welsh arm of the Vote Leave group and was Minister of State at David Davis’s Department for Exiting the European until the June 2017 snap election, when the Prime Minister replaced him with Remain supporter Baroness Anelay, criticised the concession in a 
Mail on Sunday article. Jones warned of “mounting concern” among “those of us who want to honour the referendum result” that an “EU sellout” is now in the works. “[L]ying in the heart of this agreement are provisions that could make a nonsense of a real Brexit,” explained the former Cabinet minister.

Express
THE Royal Mail has been slammed for its “absolutely outrageous” refusal to print a stamp commemorating Brexit despite it printing one for the UK joining the Common Market in 1973, it has been revealed. Senior Conservative MPs attacked the Royal Mail for its decision not to print stamps to commemorate the UK’s independence from the EU in 15 months time. The postal service has produced stamps to commemorate David Bowie, racehorses like Red Rum and a stamp was even produced in 1973 to mark the UK joining the European Economic Community – which later became the EU. One Cabinet Minister asked for a rethink while senior Conservative MPs said it was “absolutely outrageous”.

Ireland

Telegraph
Theresa May will insist that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” on the terms of Brexit after the Irish government claimed that last week’s preliminary deal is binding. The Prime Minister will say in the House of Commons on Monday that although she is optimistic that a deep and special future deal can be agreed, last week’s agreement is contingent on such an outcome. Mrs May will also face her first meeting with Cabinet ministers as potentially acriminous discussions begin about Britain’s long-term relationship with the EU. She is expected to say: “This is not about a hard or a soft Brexit… there is, I believe, a new sense of optimism now in the talks and I fully hope and expect that we will confirm the arrangements I have set out today in the European Council later this week.  

Guardian
David Davis has clashed with the Irish government after claiming that the Brexit divorce agreement between Britain and the EU was a “statement of intent” rather than something legally enforceable. The Brexit secretary’s comments came after it was reported that Downing Street advisers had told cabinet ministers who campaigned to leave the EU that promises around full regulatory alignment were “meaningless”. Theresa May also appeared to suggest there was still some flexibility in the deal reached at the end of last week, writing to all Tory MPs – in a letter seen by the Guardian – to set out the details of the agreement but promising that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. In a statement issued after Davis had made his remarks to the BBC, the Irish government warned: “Both Ireland and the EU will be holding the UK to the phase one agreement.” The deal, covering citizen rights, the divorce bill and promises around the Irish border, hit some last-minute difficulties but was signed off late last week – and is likely to result in EU leaders allowing talks to move on to the question of trade. The Irish deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, highlighted a line in the agreement that said commitments relating to Ireland would be “upheld in all circumstances, irrespective of the nature of any future agreement between the EU and UK”.

Independent
The Irish government has issued a warning to David Davis over suggestions the agreement reached with the EU over the Irish border may not be “legally enforceable” and was merely a “statement of intent.” Mr Davis told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the joint agreement between London and Brussels published on Friday might not be enacted if no free trade agreement was reached between the two sides, casting into doubt important reassurances over the border between Northern Ireland and the republic. The Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said  the deal was “politically bullet-proof” and “cast iron”. The Irish government’s chief whip, Joe McHugh, branded the Brexit Secretary’s comments as “bizarre”. He told RTE: “We will as a government, a sovereign government in Ireland, be holding the United Kingdom to account, as will the European Union. 
“My question to anybody within the British Government would be, why would there be an agreement, a set of principled agreements, in order to get to phase two, if they weren’t going to be held up? That just sounds bizarre to me.

Times
Theresa May’s delicate Brexit compromise on Ireland was in danger of unravelling last night after the government’s commitment to a deal was questioned in Dublin and Brussels. David Davis was accused of backing away from an agreement on border arrangements between Northern Ireland and the Republic just two days after the prime minister’s triumphant cross-Channel dash marked the end of days of wrangling with the Democratic Unionist Party, the Irish government and EU negotiators. Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, had regarded Britain’s commitment to avoiding a hard border through regulatory alignment with the customs union and the single market as “politically bulletproof” and “cast iron” when Mrs May announced it on Friday.

ITV News
London and Dublin have clashed over whether the Brexit agreement intended to trigger trade talks is legally binding or not. The dispute was sparked when Brexit Secretary David Davis insisted it was much more a statement of intent than “legally enforceable”. The Irish government responded strongly, stating the deal was “binding” and it would hold the UK “to account” on it. The document on legacy issues like the Irish border was hammered out in order to allow the remaining EU27 states to approve Brexit talks shifting to a phase two trade negotiation at a summit this week where Dublin wields a veto. Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar heralded the last-minute deal meant to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic as “politically bullet-proof” and “cast iron”. The Irish government’s chief whip, Joe McHugh, branded the Brexit Secretary’s comments as “bizarre”. He told RTE: “We will as a government, a sovereign government in Ireland, be holding the United Kingdom to account, as will the European Union.

EU

Express
THE EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has vowed the UK will prop up the Brussels budget into 2020, in what appears to be a concession to Germany. Mr Barnier, the European Commission’s top Brexit negotiator, promised Brexit would not mean members would need to increase their contributions to the EU’s budget, which topped £136billion last year. The EU was facing pressure from Germany which feared it would be left to them, the EU’s biggest contributor, to pick up the tab. Already calculations from Germany’s Federal Court of Auditors estimated Berlin would have to boost its funding by about one third
from €15 billion in 2015 to around €20 billion once the UK leaves.  Fearing the prospect, Gunther Oettinger, the European Budget Commissioner, said the 27 states would have to fill the void that will be left by Britain.

Foreign aid

Express
THE president of a poverty-stricken African state which receives millions from British taxpayers has splashed out £7million on a private jet, it has emerged. Mozambique’s head of state Filipe Nyusi, 58, has already taken to the skies in the executive aircraft to attend the inauguration of Zimbabwe’s new president last month.  The revelation sparked fresh calls to scrap Britain’s “crazy” foreign aid policy. Last year Britain sent £13.4billion overseas under the Government’s controversial target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income.  Mozambique
where two-thirds of the population earn less than £1 a day has been handed £1 billion by Britain over the past decade.  Last year the UK suspended foreign aid to the southern African nation following a £1.5billion secret-loan scandal.  Despite the ban Mozambique has pocketed £55million of taxpayers’ cash as the Department for International Development (DFID) still pours millions into NGO projects there.  Critics said the windfall helps free up funds for high-ranking officials to lavish on extravagant projects.

Labour Party

Sun
LABOUR’s Brexit chief sparked uproar yesterday by saying the party would accept “easy movement” of EU migrants in a trade deal. Sir Keir Starmer was accused of Brexit “betrayal” as he added Labour would be happy with a trade agreement that saw Britain adhere slavishly to EU rules to access the single market and pay an annual fee to Brussels. He even refused to rule out offering Brits a second EU Referendum. Speaking to the BBC, he said Labour would seek something similar to Norway’s trade deal – where the country remains outside the EU but pays a fee for full access to the single market and accepts most EU dictats. Challenged whether free movement rules stipulating unlimited EU immigration would go, Sir Keir said they would have to as we were leaving the EU. But he told the BBC Labour would accept “easy movement”.

Sky News
Britain should “stay aligned” to the EU after Brexit and allow an “easy movement” of people, Sir Keir Starmer has said. The shadow Brexit secretary signalled his support for a soft divorce days after a deal was struck to move negotiations on to the future UK-EU relationship. He admitted that “freedom of movement can’t stay the same
the status quo is not an option”, but said future migration to and from the bloc should be “negotiated”. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Sir Keir said “yes of course” when asked if he backed “easy movement”.

NHS

Telegraph
Ten-year-old children are being asked by the NHS whether they are “comfortable in their gender” in official health surveys being completed in schools, it has emerged. The form given to children in year six to complete asks: “Do you feel the same inside as the gender you were born with? (feeling male or female)”. Youngsters are also asked to tick a box to confirm their true gender, with options including “boy”, “girl” and “other”.  Parents have been told that the NHS survey helps healthcare workers and teachers develop “better ways to understand and support” children who may be struggling with their identity – but it is not known whether certain children will be approached based on their answers. However, MPs and parents claimed the question was intrusive and could confuse children, amid growing concerns in some quarters over the inclusion of transgender issues in primary schools.

Mail
Children as young as ten are being asked by the NHS if they feel ‘comfortable with their gender’, it emerged last night. The questionnaire being handed out to schools in Lancashire asks questions such as: ‘Do you feel the same inside as the gender you were born with? (Feeling male or female).’ Pupils in Year Six are also asked to tick a box to fill in their gender, where they are given the choice of ‘girl’, ‘boy’ or ‘other’. Parents have been told the survey assists teachers and healthcare workers to develop ‘better ways to understand and support’ youngsters who might have difficulty with their identities. However, it is not clear whether individuals will then be approached based on the answers they supplied, The Daily Telegraph reported. The survey, issued by the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, has come under fire from parents and MPs.

Times
Health officials are asking children aged ten whether they are “comfortable in their gender” as part of survey being conducted in schools. The NHS questionnaire given to Year 6 pupils asks: “Do you feel the same inside as the gender you were born with? (feeling male or female)”. They are also asked to tick a box to confirm their gender, with the options boy, girl and other, according to The Daily Telegraph. The questionnaire was sent to schools across Lancashire by the NHS foundation trust in the county. Parents have been told that it would help healthcare workers and teachers to develop “better ways to understand and support” children who may be struggling with their identity.

Mail
One three family doctors plan to close their surgeries to new patients, a survey found. They claim that without drastic action they will be unable to give safe care to those already on their books. One in ten GPs said they had already closed surgery lists to new patients temporarily within the past 12 months. A further 28 per cent – nearly a third – admitted they were considering doing so. GP surgeries are under huge strain from the ageing population – with many more patients having complex illnesses – as well as immigration.  They are also in the grip of a recruitment crisis, with an exodus of doctors retiring or quitting who are not being replaced by young trainees. Doctors’ leaders say the only way surgeries can cope with the pressure is to refuse to accept new patients. It means anyone moving into the area cannot register with their local practice and must travel further to find a surgery where the list is still open.

Education

Times
A university has refunded tuition fees to all first-year students on one of its masters courses after it failed to deliver on its promise to prepare the next generation of writers to “survive and thrive” in the industry. Central St Martins (CSM) in London paid £5,000 to each of its 23 first-year dramatic writing students, and partially refunded most second years after they took their case to college authorities. CSM tried to settle the dispute in the 2016-17 academic year by offering to repay 30 per cent of the fees but in the end it agreed a full refund. However, it required those taking the refund to sign a contract allowing CSM to take back the money if they made the agreement public.

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Avoiding a nuclear meltdown: how we might resolve the Euratom question

David Davis admitted last Tuesday that although there is no ‘systematic impact assessment’ of Britain leaving the European Union he did claim that the government had produced a ‘sectoral analysis’ of several industries. One sector that it would be wise to examine the impacts of leaving without any negotiated arrangement would be the nuclear power industry as the UK leaves Euratom. Through examining the UK’s relationship with Euratom before it joined in 1973, Joshua McMullan highlights some potential foundations for a future agreement between the two.

As Britain leaves the European Union through the Article 50 process, it also signalled that it would leave Euratom, the European nuclear regulator, when it leaves in March 2019. However, several MPs and prominent Vote Leave officials, such as Dominic Cummings, have criticised the government’s plans to leave the organisation as a ‘huge misjudgement.’ The government have responded to these claims by producing the Nuclear materials and safeguards issues position paper. However, the position paper does not set out any of the details by which the UK government will ensure the ‘smooth transition to a UK nuclear safeguards regime, with no interruption in safeguards arrangements’. In fact, it does little more than set out why the UK government believes it is within the interest of both parties to continue co-operation – something that has not satisfied those objecting to Britain’s exit from Euratom. Perhaps it is worth noting that this highly technical policy sector was a salient concern for remainers and leavers alike, but highlights how complex and multifaceted the process of disengaging from the EU, and its various associated institutions is. Yet there are solutions outside of the narrow mindsets of vague position papers and membership of Euratom, people just need to look back into the past relationship between Euratom and the UK.

Image: U.S Government, (Flickr), Public Domain.

Most of the discourse so far has centred around the possibility of an association agreement between the UK and Euratom, a solution which many believe will provide the stability and certainty that the industry so desperately needs. However, as Dan Phinnemore and Stuart Butler rightly point out in their respective articles, this is not a credible solution. Firstly, there is currently no such thing as Associate Membership of Euratom. There are ‘Co-operation Agreements’ that exist between Switzerland and Euratom and Article 342 of the Ukraine Association Agreement that provides for extensive co-operation. Nonetheless, these are not association agreements and would not cover the level of co-operation that the UK requires. It would also potentially mean the involvement of the ECJ, a red line in the Brexit negotiations. Then there is the issue of history, I am referring to the difficult and complicated nature of negotiating with the Community, exemplified best by the rejection of UK EEC membership twice and the difficulty in renegotiating membership as David Cameron found out in 2016. Yet, despite this complication, an answer may yet lie in the agreements signed after 1959 leading up to the UK becoming a full member of Euratom in 1973.

Too often do politicians and commentators on all sides forget to study their history. In this case, it would be prudent for UK officials seeking to find an answer to this problem to examine the 1959 Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) for Co-operation in the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy. This agreement stated the ‘mutual desire for close co-operation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy’, and this was before the UK applied to join Euratom formally in 1962. The agreement covers several areas, including research as covered by Article I through to VIII. As well as Articles IX through to XII, that deal with the supply and use of materials and fuel needed for the research and production of nuclear energy. Although this treaty alone is not sufficient to just copy and paste to the present, it does show two vital points. First, it is a historical precedent for UK-Euratom relations which does not involve the UK being a part of Euratom. Secondly and most crucially, it can provide the foundations for future negotiations with Euratom.

Indeed, there are three other such UK-Euratom agreements between 1963 and 1973, these all show the potential for continued and fruitful relations between the two. The first in March 1963, two months after the British application to join the EEC was vetoed by France, was a contract which saw Britain supply France, the same country that two months before vetoed the UK’s entry into the EEC with plutonium oxide. In November 1964, another contract was signed for the UK to supply France with 45kg of plutonium. Finally, in March 1965, the UK Atomic Authority signed an agreement with Euratom on the full exchange of information in the field of fast reactor physics. These contracts and agreements, made in a time of strained relations between the UK and primarily France, show that not only is nuclear co-operation with the continent outside of Euratom possible, it is also advisable for both parties to make such arrangements. The same is true today with the UK still being the major reprocessing centre for nuclear waste across the continent.

Of course, these treaties alone are not the basis for our future relationship with Euratom; the world we live in today is vastly different to what it was in the 1960s and our nuclear industry is not the size it once was. These old agreements do not cover medical isotopes at all, or nuclear safety regulations to the extent it is now. However, the very existence of these old treaties shows that new agreements that would include medical isotopes can be made. The time between the original 1959 agreement, the suspension of the application to Euratom and then the new contracts shows that such agreements can take place if the political will is present. This is before we even begin to consider the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency has with nuclear power station inspections or the Nuclear Energy Agency, formerly the European Atomic Energy Agency, has in ensuring the safe running of nuclear reactors and the spread of research to member states. There is also something to be said for the role of private industry in finding practical solutions to the continued safety and commercial success of Britain’s nuclear power industry.

It is politically unfeasible for the government to withdraw the Article 106a notification, without it raising questions about the possibility of withdrawing the notification of Article 50 due it being mentioned in the Article 50 letter of notification. Furthermore, ECJ jurisdiction over Euratom, something that crosses one of the Prime Ministers “red lines”, regardless of whether this is right or wrong, would mean that the government would still seek to leave Euratom even if it was possible to withdraw Article 106a. Rather than continue this endless circle of debate, let’s put pressure on Parliament, not just the negotiators to use historical inspiration to be inventive, and resolve this crisis. The 1959 agreement alone would be a strong foundation, something that can be built on over time.

Finding a solution to this problem is vital for the industry. Euratom is part of the global network of agencies which seek to maintain the effectiveness of nuclear power to provide energy for the future, particularly in the climate of reducing our dependency on fossil fuels. Regardless of how the UK government eventually resolves this, perhaps self-inflicted dilemma, negotiators and officials would do well to read up on their history. Not only would it help with Euratom, it could just help David Davis with his impact assessments by understanding what the situation was before joining the Community in 1973. It might just save them a whole lot of trouble.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the LSE Brexit blog, nor the LSE.

Joshua McMullan is an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership student at the University of Leicester and the National Archives, researching Britain’s civil nuclear power programme and public communication and inclusion in the twentieth century. 

‘Sacrificed on the altar of trade’: Britons in Europe feel betrayed by Brexit deal

British nationals settled in Europe say they are used as ‘bargaining chips’, and that Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker’s deal does not guarantee their rights

British nationals living in Europe say they are alarmed by claims that their rights have been protected by the Brexit deal sealed by Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker.

One Briton, Ingrid Taylor, who is settled in Germany, described claims that their rights were now guaranteed as “a barefaced lie”.

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Daily briefing: Chemists react to Brexit, bitcoin futures launch, fake dinosaurs

The Chemical Industries Association has called on Michael Gove to urge the government to remain as close as possible to the EU’s rule book for the sector

Outside the EU, Britain should be an evangelist for world trade | Liam Fox

Brexit gives us the chance to reshape Britain’s role on the global stage. We should champion the poverty-busting power of rules-based trade

• Liam Fox is international trade secretary

As the UK prepares to leave the EU, there will continue to be a passionate debate over the direction our country now takes. Some see this debate as a purely domestic issue: the UK arguing with itself about what to do next. But when it comes to future trade, these discussions are not taking place in a vacuum.

Related: Tories welcome May's Brexit deal but EU warns of trade talk delays

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Medical research and the NHS

Single market deal might halt London bank exits

Some would reverse departures in event of last-minute agreement on market access
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