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News review – Monday 17 September 2018

News review – Monday 17 September 2018


If the Brexit negotiations continue on this path they will end, I am afraid, in a spectacular political car crash. In the ensuing recriminations the road will be cordoned off. The investigative teams will roam around trying to work out how the British civil service – this purring Rolls Royce – could have come such a cropper. What distracted us? What caused us to swerve? How did Britain end up upside down in the ditch with all four wheels spinning lazily in the air? To understand the origin of the disaster, you need to go back a few hundred paces to a fatal patch of oil on the road. It is called the Irish backstop.

Boris Johnson has once again laid out the dire position that the UK would find itself in under Theresa May’s EU plan, saying that “if Chequers were adopted it would mean that for the first time since 1066 our leaders were deliberately acquiescing in foreign rule”. In his column for The Telegraph, BoJo has set out how the EU’s so-called ‘Irish backstop’ amounted to “little short of an attempt to annex Northern Ireland” that would leave NI “part of the EU Customs Union and large parts of its Single Market”. And he hit out at the absurd response by the British government who are now “saying that if Brussels cannot be satisfied on our plans for the Irish border, then we are volunteering that the whole of the UK must remain effectively in the Customs Union and large parts of the Single Market”. This then amounts to a “spectacular political car crash” and a “total write-off of Brexit” with the UK “swallowing the camel of EU membership in all but name”. Once again Boris Johnson has articulated the massive concerns and objections that Brexiteers have with Chequers. May’s plan simply doesn’t look like it has the numbers to get through Parliament as Leaver fury continues. Now is the time for the government to think again and change course – quickly.

BBC News
The Governor of the Bank of England has always been clear about two things. That the present Brexit process has had negative effects on the broader economy and on people’s incomes. And that a Brexit deal where there is no formal agreement between Britain and the European Union would make those effects worse. As Mark Carney said to me in an interview earlier this week to mark the 10th anniversary of the financial crisis, Brexit is one of t
he Big Four risks the Bank is facing. A debt crisis in China, problematically high household debt in the UK and a catastrophic cyber-attack taking out a whole bank are the others. “There are risks around Brexit for the financial sector,” he told me. “And here’s something that’s changed with the system from 10 years ago – we are absolutely upfront about those risks, our view of those risks. “We have stress tested our banks against those risks to make sure they have enough of a safety net, both in terms of their own funds plus liquid funds, in case we had a no deal Brexit.”

Theresa May is to defy the threat of being ousted straight after Britain leaves the EU in March by planning to relaunch her premiership next summer with domestic reforms. The prime minister has already begun planning next year’s Queen’s Speech, which is due by July, with a focus on what cabinet papers refer to as “life after Brexit”. The move will infuriate Mrs May’s critics, including moderate Conservative MPs who believe that she should be allowed to stay in office until Britain formally leaves the EU but then stand aside. It raises the prospect of her remaining in office until at least summer 2020. In an interview to be broadcast tonight, the prime minister says that she is “irritated” by constant speculation about her leadershi

Theresa May‘s blueprint for Brexit could give the economy a £16bn boost if the prime minister reaches a deal with Brussels, the governor of the Bank of England  reportedly told a meeting of the cabinet.  The assessment of Ms May’s Chequers compromise plan for Brexit is the latest detail to emerge from Mark Carney‘s presentation to senior ministers earlier this week on the possible effects of no deal.  According to the 
Financial Times, Mr Carney said there would be an economic bounce should the prime minister negotiate a deal similar to Chequers, which aims for a free trade area for goods, including agriculture, with the EU. “Carney said that we would recover three quarters of the growth lost after the 2016 referendum because Chequers would imply more access to the European market than under current assumptions,” a cabinet source told the FTResponding to the reports, Jacob Rees-Mogg, who leads the European Research Group (ERG) of hardline Brexiteer MPs in the Conservative Party, said: “The governor of the Bank of England is meant to be able to influence events through the modest movement of his eyebrows, not by imitating a screaming banshee.”  It comes after Mr Carney was reported to have provided a bleak assessment of a no-deal scenario to ministers at the same meeting, suggesting it could lead to a financial crisis as bad as the crash a decade ago. He is also understood to have told the cabinet that house prices could fall by up to 35 per cent over three years under a worst-case scenario – an event that could cause the value of sterling to plummet and force the banks to push up interest rates.

BBC news
Theresa May has told the BBC that MPs will have a choice between her proposed deal with the EU – or no deal at all. In an interview with Panorama, she is also critical of plans by Brexiteers to resolve the Irish border issue. But ex-foreign secretary Boris Johnson claims the government’s failure to resolve the border question has led to a “constitutional abomination”. A BBC-commissioned survey indicates more people across the UK think the impact of Brexit will be negative. Speaking to the BBC’s Nick Robinson, Mrs May says that if Parliament does not ratify the Chequers plan “I think that the alternativ
e to that will be having no deal”.

Nearly 80 per cent of UK voters believe the government has handled Brexit negotiations badly, according to a poll. Less than a third of Britons think the country leaving the European Union will leave them better off in five years, found the ComRes survey for BBC Radio 5 Live. Half of those surveyed said they believe Brexit will be bad for the country, compared to just over four in 10 who expect it to have a positive impact. Seventy-nine per cent were critical of the way Theresa May’s government has handled exit talks. The poll is ominous for the Conservative prime minister, who also faces pressure within her party over her Brexit blueprint. Dozens of Tory rebels are said to have openly discussed how to oust her from Downing Street during a meeting of the hard-Brexit European Research Group this week. Ms May admitted in a BBC 
Panorama interview, due to air on Monday, that she gets “irritated” by the debate about her leadership of the party. “I get a little bit irritated but this debate is not about my future, this debate is about the future of the people of the UK and the future of the United Kingdom,” she told the programme.

Sky News
Theresa May’s Brexit plan is the “right one for now” but a future prime minister could still alter Britain’s relationship with the EU, Michael Gove has said. The environment secretary and prominent Brexiteer has admitted having to modify some of his beliefs to accommodate the PM’s approach but said it was important to leave the EU “in good order” with a deal that “safeguards the referendum mandate”. With time running out to secure a deal, Mr Gove said the onus was on the EU to compromise “because we’ve shown flexibility”. “A future prime minister could always choose to alter the relationship between Britain and the European Union,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr. Theresa May has described a second referendum as a ‘great betrayal’ “But the Chequers approach is the right one for now because we have got to make sure that we respect that vote and take advantage of the opportunities of being outside the European Union.” Mrs May’s Chequers plan has been widely criticised by both Conservative Remainers and Brexiteers, with Jacob Rees-Mogg describing it as “absolute rubbish” and former education secretary Justine Greening saying it was less popular than the poll tax.

Michael Gove has tried to persuade Brexiteers to back the Chequers plan by stressing that the deal can be renegotiated once the UK has left the European Union. The Environment Secretary said that whilst Chequers is “the right deal for now”, a future prime minister would have the power to “alter the relationship” and elements of the agreement. Asked whether he believed Mrs May’s proposals were permanent or temporary solution, Mr Gove said that at present it was the correct approach because it delivered on the referendum result by taking Britain out of the EU’s “political institutions”.

A total of 151 Brexit-related motions have been submitted by local Labour parties, with dozens asking the party’s annual conference to back either a general election or a fresh public vote on the final Brexit deal. It comes after one of Labour’s most powerful figures, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, called for another vote on Brexit, insisting there are now just two possible outcomes for the UK in the negotiations – either a bad deal, or a no-deal.  It is likely to pile pressure on Jeremy Corbyn, who has refused to rule out the idea, but has consistently said that it is not Labour policy to support a fresh referendum. The document of 272 motions, seen by 
The Independent,shows that 55 per cent of them relate to Labour’s position on Brexit, with other issues including the party’s stance on antisemitism, welfare, government contracts and schools. On Monday, the party’s conference arrangement committee will sift through the raw motions and decide which ones to put forward to Labour’s conference in Liverpool next week. Each Constituency Labour Party (CLP) has the opportunity to propose a “contemporary motion” for discussion at conference and campaigners for a new public vote claim the number of motions supporting the idea will dominate.

Conservative Party
With anger growing over the controversial Chequers plan which will leave Britain “half in, half out” of the EU, the Bow Group and Bruges Group have organised a conference on 1 and 2 October. In a further blow to the Conservative leadership, the Brexit conference at the Birmingham Midland Institute will hear from leading Tories including former cabinet ministers Priti Patel, John Redwood and Owen Paterson. 
There will also be speeches by senior Tory MEP and trade expert David Campbell Bannerman and Andrea Jenkyns, the Tory MP who has openly been collecting signatures to hold a vote of confidence in Theresa May’s leadership. Respected pro-Brexit Tory MPs Daniel Kawcynski and Sir Bill Cash will also make speeches and share a platform with former Ukip MEP Steven Woolfe who has been controversially blocked from joining the Conservatives. The chairman of the Bow Group Ben Harris-Quinney told the Daily Express: “The Bow Group has boycotted Conservative Party Conference since 2013 in protest of the lack of Party democracy. “Things have since gotten worse and the Conservatives are unable to explain their membership policy which excludes strong Brexiteer conservatives like Steven Woolfe but welcomes Remainers, liberals and socialists.” He said that the conference was the first event for the Brexit Advance Coalition of 10 organisations which have come together to fight back against the Chequers plan. Mr Harris-Quinney went on: “We are proud to have formed the Brexit Advance Coalition with ten other like minded organisations and look forward to inaugurating with this fantastic programme of events and speakers in an alternative conference in Birmingham in the first days of October.


The European Union is secretly preparing to accept a frictionless Irish border after Brexit in a move that raises the prospect of Theresa May striking a deal by the end of the year. In a concession to British concerns, EU negotiators want to use technological solutions to minimise customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Under the EU plan, goods could be tracked using barcodes on shipping containers under “trusted-trader” schemes administered by registered companies. This would remove the need for new border infrastructure. A sticking point in the talks to date has been how to avoid the return of a “hard” border in Northern Ireland with new checks or controls amid fears that it could lead to renewed conflict.

The EU is proving unable to convince Theresa May that by using “trusted trader schemes” and technology its proposal to in effect keep Northern Ireland in the customs union and single market will not draw a border in the Irish sea. The Brexit negotiations have reached an impasse over the failure to find an acceptable solution to avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland after the UK leaves the EU. The solution proposed by Brussels in which Northern Ireland has a different status from the rest of the UK has been rejected by the prime minister as involving the economic and constitutional “dislocation” of the country. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has nevertheless repeatedly insisted that the issue can be “de-dramatised”. Barnier has sought to show that the level of trade between Belfast and the rest of the UK is minimal, and that the checks that would be required do not pose a constitutional threat to the British government. But according to what is described as a diplomatic note seen by the Times, the EU is struggling to convince the UK that it is significant that checks at a border could be avoided entirely for many companies through trusted trade schemes. The diplomatic note, said to have been drafted following a meeting of EU ambassadors last Wednesday with Barnier’s deputy, Sabine Weyand, reports that the UK has not been “helpful” over the issue. The note says: “The biggest unsolved problem is Northern Ireland. There is a political mobilisation in the UK in this regard. Therefore, we are trying to clarify the EU position. The controls or checks only have to be organised in a way that would not endanger the EU single market. “For the main part, these controls would not have to happen at a border. It is to be expected that the reach of the backstop would decrease anyway in case of an agreement about the future relationship … The solution is specifically phrased for Northern Ireland so that it is not applicable for Scotland. A UK concern.”


Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to apologise for misleading the Scottish people during the independence referendum after a new analysis disclosed the extraordinary extent to which the SNP inflated North Sea oil revenues. The Labour research, published ahead tomorrow’s fourth anniversary of the vote, said the Scottish Government’s forecasts for North Sea revenue were up to £30 billion more than the latest official estimates between 2016/17 and the current financial year. This is almost the equivalent of the Scottish Government’s entire annual budget, which funds the NHS and education system. Labour said the analysis demonstrated the “huge cuts” to schools and hospitals if the Nationalists had triumphed and accused Ms Sturgeon of selling political “snake oil.”

Aggressive driving will be the subject of a crackdown after figures showed that one in eight high-speed crashes was caused by “tailgating” motorists. Police chiefs said motorists would be fined £100 for driving too close to the car in front in response to concerns over an increase in antisocial driving on motorways and A-roads. Officers will be on the lookout for those driving just a few metres behind another vehicle. Highways England begins a campaign today to highlight the dangers posed by tailgating. It published analysis showing that almost one in eight casualties — 1,896 out of 16,233 — in 2016 was caused by drivers travelling too close to the car in front. This included 114 people killed or seriously injured.

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England’s employers more optimistic over Brexit than elsewhere in UK

Companies in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland more pessimistic on hiring plans

Employers in England are more optimistic about being able to shrug off the impact of Brexit than anywhere else in the UK but a gloomy outlook across the rest of Britain has dragged overall hiring optimism to its lowest level in six years.

Revealing increasing divisions across the country, the latest snapshot from the jobs market by the employment agency ManpowerGroup comes less than 200 days before Britain is due to formally leave the EU.

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