Archive for February, 2020

We will walk away if no deal likely in June, Johnson warns EU

The UK has threatened to walk away from Brexit trade talks and head towards WTO trading terms with the EU if a draft deal is not in place in June, according to the mandate published by Boris Johnson's government on Thursday (27 February).

Heathrow Airport expansion ruled illegal by UK court

LONDON — The expansion of London’s Heathrow Airport has been ruled illegal by the Court of Appeal of the High Court of England and Wales, which on Thursday ruled the project did not adequately take into consideration the U.K.’s environmental commitments.

The judges said former Transport Secretary Chris Grayling did not take enough account of the U.K.’s climate change pledges under the Paris Agreement when considering the plan to build a third runway at Heathrow, the world’s second busiest airport. The Paris deal requires signatory countries to pursue efforts to keep global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius and well below 2 degrees.

The judges also did not overturn the High Court’s dismissal of the other challenges on air and noise pollution, traffic, and the costs of the runway.

The court said a review of the project should now follow. The remit and the timeline of such a review will be decided by the current transport secretary, Grant Shapps.

The House of Commons gave consent to the private multibillion-pound expansion of the airport in 2018. Heathrow estimates the cost of building the new runway by 2028-29 would be about £14 billion.

The airport argues the expansion is necessary because of a lack of capacity in the southeast of England, which could hamper the U.K.’s ambitions to expand its global trade post Brexit, especially to emerging cargo markets. Jewelry, machinery and medicines are the most-exported goods from Heathrow.

The case against the British government under Theresa May was brought by a group of councils in London affected by the proposed expansion; environmental campaign groups including Friends Of The Earth, Greenpeace and Plan B; and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

The government has not yet asked to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, but Heathrow Airport has said it will. “The Court of Appeal dismissed all appeals against the government — including on ‘noise’ and ‘air quality’ — apart from one which is eminently fixable. We will appeal to the Supreme Court on this one issue and are confident that we will be successful,” an airport spokesperson said.

The court’s ruling is the first in the world to be based on the Paris Agreement and could inspire more legal challenges against infrastructure projects in other countries.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman told journalists on Wednesday that “in order to proceed, Heathrow must demonstrate that it can meet its air quality and noise obligations, that the project can be financed and built and that the business case is realistic.” Johnson opposed the expansion of the airport when he was mayor of London.

London Mayor Khan said he is “delighted that the Court of Appeal has recognized that the government cannot ignore its climate change responsibilities. I will continue to stand up for Londoners’ concerns by doing everything I can to stop the Heathrow expansion.”

UK publishes Brexit trade mandate, warns it’s ready for no deal

LONDON — The U.K. Thursday unveiled its negotiating strategy for a trade deal with the EU — but warned that preparations to end the Brexit transition period without an agreement would begin immediately.

Downing Street’s document titled “The Future Relationship With the EU” lays out negotiating aims on things like fishing and financial services, as well as controversial “level playing field” rules, which would set out the extent to which the U.K. must align to EU regulations in exchange for market access.

Brussels wants Britain to agree to follow its laws on things like labor standards and environmental rights, to avoid being undercut by such a close neighbor. But the U.K., while insisting it will maintain high standards, wants full control over the future direction of its regulations, arguing other nations like Canada have full autonomy and that the geographical proximity between Britain and the EU is irrelevant.

“Whatever happens, the government will not negotiate any arrangement in which the U.K. does not have control over its own laws and political life,” the document reads. “That means that we will not agree to any obligations for our laws to be aligned with the EU’s or for the EU’s institutions, including the Court of Justice, to have any jurisdiction in the U.K.”

Speaking in the House of Commons, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said Britain is “confident that those negotiations will lead to outcomes which work for both the U.K. and the EU.”

The U.K. insists its approach to level playing field rules remains in line with the Political Declaration on the future relationship.

But he added that either way, when the transition period ends on December 31, 2020 the U.K. will “fully recover its economic and political independence,” adding: “In pursuit of a deal we will not trade away our sovereignty.”

The U.K. insists its approach to level playing field rules remains in line with the Political Declaration on the future relationship, agreed last October, and argues that the EU has over-interpreted a line that pledged “provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition.” It says the EU demands amount to legal subordination of the U.K.

Britain wants an agreement on level playing field rules like the EU-Canada deal, which it says commits both sides not to reduce labor and environmental protections in order to encourage trade and investment.

The new U.K. document adds that if no agreement is in sight by June, when the two sides will take a stock take over progress, the government could ditch negotiations and focus on preparing to leave without a trade agreement, under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, and possibly with a range of mini-agreements on other areas.

However, a U.K. official said preparations for leaving without a deal would be put in place throughout 2020, and that some border infrastructure will need to be built either way because some checks will be needed under the trade plans envisioned by Britain.

Brexit: Michael Gove gives MPs details of UK’s negotiating mandate for trade talks with EU – live news

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen, including Michael Gove publishing the government’s negotiating mandate for the post-Brexit trade talks with the EU

The SNP’s Pete Wishart accuses Gove of “unicornism”. He says the UK will not get a better deal than the one it has now.

Ian Duncan Smith, the Tory Brexiter, asks Gove to confirm that the UK will not leave itself under the control of the European court of justice when it comes to enforcing state aid rules.

Gove says that is correct.

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Brexit: UK negotiating objectives for trade with EU, in a nutshell

UK vision for next phase of Brexit abandons commitments made in October alongside withdrawal agreement

The government has released its negotiating objectives for the next phase of Brexit, centring on the future trading relationship and other issues.

At its core is a decision to abandon commitments made in October in the joint EU-UK political declaration signed alongside the legally binding withdrawal agreement.

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UK says it will consider walking away from Brexit talks in June

Negotiating mandate reveals Johnson seeks Canada-style deal and ‘regulatory freedom’

Boris Johnson is asking the EU for a Canada-style trade deal but will consider whether to walk away from talks in June and prepare for an “orderly” exit from the transition period.

Setting out its negotiating mandate for EU talks, Downing Street said it wanted “regulatory freedom” from the EU and would not accept any role for the European court of justice (ECJ) in dispute resolution mechanisms.

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U.K. Central Banker Sees #Investment Surge Driven by Brexit, Budget

There’s a good chance that U.K. companies will unleash spending this year with a double boost from an expansionary budget and more clarity over Brexit, according to Bank of England Chief Economist ...
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