Taxpayer Billed £100 Million After Government Breached EU Procurement Rules

The taxpayer has been hit with a £100 million bill after the government breached EU procurement rules over a contract to decommission nuclear power plants. Business Secretary Greg Clark today confirmed the compensation will be paid to American companies Energy Solutions and Bechtel after the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority awarded the £6 billion contract to Cavendish Fluor Group. Energy Solutions argued the decision breached the EU’s public procurement rules as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority did not “award the contract to the most economically advantageous tenderer”. This went against the EU’s Public Sector Directive, and therefore Energy Solutions were qualified for a remedy under the Remedies Directive. A giant cock-up by the government, but it’s EU law that has cost the taxpayer the equivalent of the salaries of 4,500 NHS nurses…

Nuttall and Farage Coy on UKIP’s Electoral Future

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall declared his party the “guard dogs of Brexit” today as he launched six tests ahead of Theresa May triggering Article 50. They all seem pretty sensible to Guido…

  1. Legal – “Parliament must resume its supremacy of law-making with no impediments… Britain must wholly remove itself from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice”;
  2. Migration – “Britain must resume full control of its immigration and asylum policies…not be bound by any freedom of movement obligation”;
  3. Maritime – “Restore the UK’s full maritime sovereignty and exclusive economic zone”;
  4. Trade – “UK must have full legal rights to set its own tariff and non-tariff barriers…WTO terms are the acceptable fall-back position”;
  5. Money – “There must be no final settlement payment…and no ongoing payments to the EU budget”;
  6. Time – “Brexit must be done and dusted by the end of 2019“.

To which the Telegraph’s cheeky Chris Hope asked if UKIP would still be around in 2019…

Asked how he plans to enforce the tests in parliament after UKIP lost its only MP, Nuttall said:

“Through pressure, exactly the same way as we did when we forced the referendum… you don’t necessarily have to have a UKIP backside on the green leather of the House of Commons to ensure that we can apply political pressure within that chamber.”

Nuttall predicted the party’s vote share would go up in May’s local elections, though notably not that they would gain seats. 

Nigel Farage sat on the back row throughout this morning’s press conference in Westminster, capturing the attention of journalists present no doubt to the delight of Nuttall. As he was leaving, Farage was asked if UKIP would lose seats in the upcoming local elections:

“I don’t know, as with all these elections they’re peak to peak… that doesn’t mean that your strong areas aren’t still very, very strong, I suspect they probably are.”

Asked if the party would gain seats, Nige said: “I’m retired”…

Nige vs Bad Al Campbell Brexit Bust-Up

Red-cheeks and a lot of huffing and puffing on the Good Morning Britain sofa today…

Dutch Finance Minister: Southern Europeans Spent €uros on “Alcohol & Women”

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the socialist Dutch finance minister and president of the Eurogroup, has upset his fellow finance ministers by saying of “countries in crisis”:

“I cannot spend all my money on liquor and women and plead for your support afterwards. This principle applies on the personal, local, national and also European level”

This has not gone down well with the Southern Eurozone countries who have spent all their money. Portugal’s Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva and Italy’s former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi have called for Dijsselbloem to resign. He remains admirably unapologetic:

Guido doesn’t see money spent on alcohol and women as a waste…

FT’s David Allen Green Triggered By Article 50

Spare a thought for the FT’s columnists – they are really having a tough time of it at the moment. Take David Allen Green, the paper’s legal commentator who has been imparting his Article 50 wisdom to readers of the pink ‘un. In a column headlined “The three steps that mean Brexit may never happen”, DAG voiced his belief that Article 50 may never be triggered:

“Unless Leave create another moment of opportunity – another wrong-footing of the established order – so as to force through the required Article 50 notification, then it may not happen at all.”

Then there was his column titled “Brexit: the facts”, in which he again argued Article 50 might never be triggered:

“There are a number of reasons why a notification may never be sent. During the referendum campaign, the prime minister sought to give the impression that the notification would be sent “straight away”. But when he resigned he said it would be a matter for his successor. It may well be that if the notification was not sent on the day of the referendum result, it may never be sent.”

He couldn’t have been clearer in this tweet:

David’s latest update is that the triggering of Article 50 is now “more likely than unlikely”. He has given up on making predictions:

“My only prediction now is that those who doubted that the Article 50 notification would ever be seen will get a good-natured ribbing by those who never had such doubts.”

8 days to go…

Early Deals ‘Ready to Go’ After Article 50

The government is ready to announce a series of early deals with the EU in the first few weeks and months after Article 50 is triggered. Government figures say they have been holding ‘informal’ talks with EU countries, in particular Germany, over a number of agreements that aim to show goodwill at the beginning of the negotiations and the potential for a mutually beneficial Brexit. This is at odds with the EU’s public line that there has been no negotiation before notification. A government source says: “There are deals ready to go. The Germans have agreed to them, but we can’t do it before Article 50”.

Examples of possible early deals being considered include over migrants and defence arrangements in Eastern Europe. Andrew Lilico has speculated about the kinds of early reciprocal deals that could be struck, for example formally granting Britain permission to negotiate trade deals with non-EU countries in return for some olive branch to Brussels and Berlin. The issue of Britons’ and migrants’ rights is obviously something Theresa May has said she wants to address early on. There is optimism in Whitehall that Germany – so far, behind the scenes – wants to work constructively…

Inflation Hits Bank of England Target

The above chart shows the Consumer Price Index over the last 5 years – the Bank of England is mandated to target 2%, a target it has not hit since 2013. The fall in the pound has imported inflation, raw materials in particular are up some 20%. Expect to see a lot of doom and gloom in the FT about about inflation outstripping wages and hitting Brexit voters. Up to a point…

This currency hit to inflation is a one time hit, it will fade with time. As the chart above shows in red, inflation has been below the target for 5 years, with the governor of the Bank of England making regular excuses in letters to the Chancellor. This was Mark Carney last year:

“The underlying causes of below-target inflation over the past two years have been: sharp falls in commodity prices; the earlier appreciation of sterling; and, to a lesser degree, the subdued pace of domestic cost growth.”

The underlying cause of the rise in inflation today is, conversely, rising commodity prices, the fall in sterling and the stronger than expected economy. The recent period of food price deflation was not normal. By 2019 the currency effect on inflation will have faded. If of course the economy was to go down the pan as Project Fear warned, inflation pressures would fall…

Article 50 Triggered Next Wednesday March 29

The UK’s Permanent Representative to the European Union Sir Tim Barrow has this morning informed the office of European Council President Donald Tusk of the UK’s intention to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on March 29 2017. Soon…

Triggering date is the birthday of both John Major and Norman Tebbit. Happy birthday!

Toyota Invests Quarter of a Billion in UK #DespiteBrexit

Toyota today announces an investment of more than a quarter of a billion pounds into the UK, contrary to previous warnings from the firm and car market analysts over Brexit. The Japanese company has a major plant near Derby where it manufactures its Auris and Avensis models. About 75% of cars made at that plant are exported to EU nations. Last year the FT warned:

“The Leave vote could be the final straw for the two Japanese carmakers… Ahead of the referendum, Toyota had already warned of “huge cost reduction challenges” at its plants in Burnaston in Derbyshire and Deeside in north Wales if the UK faced a 10 per cent tariff on exports to Europe.

“The reality is that it’s nearly impossible to make profit considering that they had not made much money over the past two decades. Can you keep holding on to a perpetually lossmaking operation in Britain?” said Koji Endo, analyst at Advanced Research Japan.”

Experts…

Brexit Bill Given Royal Assent

Article 50 can now be triggered…

Davis Dismisses Major’s Claim That No Deal is Worst Outcome

Speaking to the Brexit select committee this morning, David Davis has dismissed John Major’s claim that no deal is the worst possible outcome. He made clear the government’s position is that no deal is “not as good an outcome as a free trade, friction-free, open agreement”, though insisted it would not mean a hard border with Ireland and offered this sensible assessment of a WTO Brexit:

It’s not as frightening as some people think but it’s not as simple as some people think. In the event that we don’t get [a deal] we will have a fairly extensive contingency plan which is already underway. And we will have, whatever happens, a sharply improved access to the rest of the world off the back of a large number of free trade agreements which will be coming into effect shortly after we leave… [No deal] is by no means the worst possible outcome. By no means.”

As Guido reported on Monday, this is the argument senior Leavers want the government to make a bit more forcefully. You can’t go into a negotiation if you aren’t prepared to walk away. 

Sir Keir Starmer, the Guardian et al are jumping on Davis saying no economic assessment of a WTO Brexit has yet been carried out. This is a bit of a red herring, they have repeatedly said planning is underway and Davis says they will have an assessment in a year’s time.

Lowest Unemployment Since 1975


Unemployment has fallen to 4.7% in the three months to January. Britain now has the lowest rate of unemployment since 1975. The figure for people in work rose by 92,000 to 31.9 million. Bloomberg reports:

“The U.K. economy has defied predictions of doom since the Brexit vote…”

Unemployment is almost half what it was under Gordon Brown…

LibDem Peer: Brexit Like Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin

LibDem peer Lord Taverne with the maddest contribution to the Brexit bill debate last night:

“It is a very dangerous step towards the doctrine that the people’s will must always prevail. My Lords, this is the doctrine which has always been Hitler, by Mussolini, by Stalin, by Erdogan at this present time. It is denial of the essence of democracy which we have supported to great effect in this country, and now we are abandoning it. My Lords we are the guardians of parliamentary democracy, we are right in this, we are the democrats and we are right to support the democratic cause.”

An insight worth £300 a day…

Vid via @wallaceme

Brexit Bill Passes

The Brexit bill passes through the Lords, its final hurdle in parliament before gaining Royal Assent. And then at last Theresa May can trigger Article 50. Another historic moment…

Lords Amendments Defeated

Both Lords amendments have been overturned in the Commons tonight.

The amendment on EU nationals’ rights was defeated by 335 to 287, a majority of 48.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

OTT Tasmina Asks About Deporting EU Citizens

This is the level of debate from zombie Remainers like the SNP’s Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh: asking the government if they have considered establishing a deportation process for EU citizens. The government has repeatedly said it will guarantee the rights of EU citizens once the EU reciprocates for Britons.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Tory MP Recovering From Coma Makes Brexit Vote

Tory MP Mike Wood was in a coma on life support for the second reading of the Brexit bill and still in intensive care for the third reading, after surviving a septic shock.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Downing Street: Article 50 Triggered at “End” of March

So much for all those newspaper stories guesstimating that Article 50 would be triggered tomorrow – a “government source” is briefing various political editors that it won’t happen this week or next. A Number 10 spokesman claims they always said it would be at the “END” of March, their capital letters.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Senior Leavers: No.10 Must Prepare Public For WTO Brexit

Senior Leave figures want the government to do much more to publicly prepare the public for a Brexit on WTO terms. Theresa May’s speech in January arguing that “no deal is better than a bad deal” pleased Tory Leavers, but they fear not enough has been done by Downing Street to prevent continuity Remainers seizing the narrative and convincing the public that WTO terms would be a disaster.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Heseltine Sacked

Heseltine says he has been sacked as a government adviser at DCLG after rebelling in the Lords on Brexit tonight. He had unsurprisingly faced calls for his head from Tory MPs and peers in recent weeks. Inevitable. […] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Donald Tusk sounding a bit intimidated:

“We will not be intimidated by threats that no Brexit deal is good for UK & bad for EU. No deal bad for everyone, above all for UK.”

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