Hunt: Experts Have Been Proved Wrong

About time the government called out the IFS

May Considers Asking to Stay in Single Market For Goods

The extremely well-connected Brexit wonk Charles Grant writes in the FT today that the government is considering asking to stay in the single market for goods. Guido also understands this is under active consideration in Number 10. Grant writes that this means de facto accepting ECJ rulings and EU rules and regulations, and potentially a compromise on free movement:

“The challenge, however, is that the EU would never agree to Britain being in the single market for goods unless it adopted all relevant rules, submitted to a punishment mechanism for any deviation, and accepted some oversight by the European Court of Justice… If the UK does request membership of the single market in goods, the EU’s initial reaction will be no. Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator, says the single market is “ binary” — you are either in all or none of it — and must involve free movement of labour.”

If we agree to become a rule-taker on goods and accept ECJ rulings, we are clearly not taking back control of laws. If we have full alignment with Brussels regulations on goods, that severely hampers our ability to strike trade deals with other countries – that is not taking back control of trade policy. If there is a compromise on free movement, that is not taking back control of borders. And it is unfathomable the EU would agree to all this without the UK making significant ongoing payments of vast sums to Brussels. That is not taking back control of money. Staying in the single market for goods crosses May’s own red lines, and goes miles beyond the red lines of Brexiters. 

Number 10 may have wagered that they can buy off Brexiters like Boris and Gove by agreeing to spend the Brexit dividend on the NHS (even though this is disingenuous and the NHS money is mostly tax rises). But surely there is no way Boris, Gove, Fox and Davis – or any Brexiter for that matter – could stay in the government if their red lines were rubbed out like this. This would be the softest of Brexits – Cabinet Leavers must stand up to Number 10 on this…

Eurotunnel: Don’t Buy Border Scaremongering

Eurotunnel bosses are confident on the arrangements for the Anglo-French border after Brexit. A presentation for shareholders reveals Eurotunnel’s internal analysis which concludes the likely outcome of negotiations is:

“An agreement with a time limited transition period for implementation of customs and animal and plant health controls. Technology will speed up border processing.”

Eurotunnel says in its report:

“Given Eurotunnel’ unique position, our key Government insights, and our track record in managing transition, we strongly believe that the Group will strengthen its competitive position after the Brexit.”

The firm is confident in part because it has managed bigger challenges, not least the 2015 migrant crisis. The firm’s conclusion counters a rash of stories placed by remainers raising artificial fears about the border. Total trade coming into UK via Eurotunnel is 26% – so their opinion counts. All aboard the Brexit express…

IFS Forecasts About Brexit Consistently Wrong

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has been allowed a huge quantity of free airtime and column inches in the past few days to bash the Brexit dividend and talk down the economy. The Lobby takes Paul Johnson’s word as gospel. Which is odd, considering the IFS’s record on these matters…

The IFS made a substantial number of predictions about Brexit which turned out to be completely untrue, including:

  • That a vote to leave would be “seismic” and that “the economy would suffer… There’s no doubt we’d suffer in the short term”. There was no recession following the UK’s vote to leave; no abnormal change in inflation; no rise in unemployment; and no fall in wage growth…

  • The IFS said if the UK voted to leave “the stock market, would dive, making us all poorer”The stock market has risen to record highs…

  • The IFS also said that investment would dry up if the UK voted to leave: “Investment… would fall”. Net foreign direct investment flows from the EU into the UK in 2016 were the highest in 10 years…

The IFS’s forecasts are politically inflected:

  • In 2011, the IFS predicted that by 2014/15, absolute child poverty would have risen from 17.5% to 24%. In fact, it fell to 17%…

  • The IFS predicted that GDP growth in 2017 would fall to 1.6%. In fact it rose to 1.8%…

A cynic might point out that the IFS admits on its own website that it receives tens of thousands from the European Commission. But on his forecasts alone, Guido isn’t sure Paul Johnson really merits all this media veneration… 

Friday Caption Contest (Grieveous Error Edition)

Entries in the comments…

Ryanair Endorses Brexit Britain With Huge New Base

Ryanair will open a huge new operations base at Southend Aiport next April. The airport will become Ryanair’s hub for eight countries, flying 16 routes including the extremely popular Barcelona, Corfu, Milan and Venice services. More than a million Ryanair passengers will pass through the terminal on 55 flights a week. The project will create 750 jobs. A big vote of confidence in Brexit Britain…

Oh, wait. David O’Brien, remoaning Ryanair chief commercial officer, said of his own plans: “Don’t confuse this great news as some sort of vote of confidence in the future of UK aviation, it’s a vote of confidence in Southend airport… [it was not] a reversal of opinion on the merits of Brexit”. Not sure they’re even convincing themselves with that line…

Arron Banks Legals Verhofstadt Over Putin Tweet

Arron Banks issued a legal letter to Guy Verhofstadt last night ordering the European Parliament Brexit co-ordinator to retract a tweet accusing him of being a “Putin cheerleader”. Banks’s lawyers say the bizarre tweet from arch-Europhile Verhofstadt defames him and that Verhofstadt’s allegations “are false.” Verhofstadt also accused Nigel Farage, who Guido understands is thinking hard about his options in response. Tough claim for Verhofstadt to defend, he’ll surely have to retract…

Hypocrisy of Chuka and Labour’s EEA Rebels

Remoaner Labour MPs led by Chuka Umunna are rebelling against the leadership with a doomed amendment this afternoon attempting to keep us in the EEA. This is what Chuka used to say about the EEA model during the referendum: it “pays into the EU budget, accepts free movement, must obey EU laws with no say” and “would hurt the UK”.

Even by his standards, it is the height of hypocrisy for Chuka and co to now be backing EEA membership.

Brexiters Insist They’ve Not Been Played, As Remainers Claim We’re Heading For EEA+

The government ‘won’ the meaningful vote amendment by conceding parts a) and b) of the Dominic Grieve amendment. Those sections say that if there is no deal by November 30 then the Commons must “approve” the “course of action”.

Remainers are briefing out that this means the EU will drag its feet until November 30, by which point parliament takes control of the negotiation, no deal is effectively off the table and the UK position is ultimately watered down to EEA+. If these tweets from two very clued up Brexit journalists prove to be correct, Brexiters have been totally played. We would be heading for the softest of non-Brexits.

Senior Brexiters are adamant they have not been played. They insist they have been assured by whips that the government has not conceded that the Commons will direct negotiations if there is no deal by November 30, contrary to Remainer briefing. They insist all they have conceded is a series of statements. We heard that one before in December.

Both sides think they have won. Obviously they both cannot be right. Tradition would suggest it is the Brexiters who realise a few weeks down the line that they have been screwed. We will find out soon enough…

UPDATE: Some senior Brexiters are now worried they have been done. One says: “If Theresa and Julian have sold us out here they are in real trouble. She reassured us all at the 1922. There is no way she can recover if she has now f*cked us over.” 

UPDATE II: A government source attempts to reassure: “Brexiteers have nothing to worry about. While the discussions will now continue, no concession has been made. Brexiteers have not been sold a pup.”

UPDATE III: Dexeu insists: “We have not, and will not, agree to the House of Commons binding the Government’s hands in the negotiations.” That’s not what Remainers thought…

Customs Can Kicked Down Road at The ’22

No fireworks at the 1922 Committee tonight – instead, yet more fudge. A “very nervous looking” Theresa May grew in confidence as the meeting went on – this was no dramatic showdown. It emerged Nicky Morgan will put her name to a new amendment-in-lieu on the customs “arrangement” (an emergency compromise being drafted by Oliver Letwin), which will also carry the support of senior Brexiters. This will – it is said – also stave off any trouble over the meaningful vote. The amendment will mean the government should avoid defeat on Wednesday and the whole customs battle will – yet again – be kicked down the road…

There were no surprises in May’s speech – Tory MPs became aware of its contents in advance since most of it had been briefed. Guido is told questions were mostly supportive of the PM. IDS spoke to urge party unity. Philip Davies presented the most tricky intervention, urging the PM to make sure Brexit is delivered in a manner true to the referendum. May repeated her lines. Andrea Jenkyns urged more positivity on Brexit in general – a floor-perched Anna Soubry shook her head throughout. Boris was absent. A theatrical display of unity was presented to the waiting press in the corridor – a joint spin-session from top Brexiter Steve Baker and former remainer Robert Buckland showed a united front. Buckland said: “we’ll hang together or we’ll all hang separately”. The proverbial can kicked down the road again…

Oxford Using Peers and Pollsters to Block Brexit

Oxford University has made no secret of its opposition to Brexit. The university believes it will lose cash when the UK leaves, not least the £236 million it receives as part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 scheme. Vice Chancellor Louise Richardson is on record saying Oxford is “in trouble as a result of the referendum” and that its work is “threatened by Brexit”. Guido takes a look at how Oxford is fighting the will of the people…

The university – naturally – has a considerable roll call of allies who happen sit in the House of Lords. Which is extremely convenient if you’re battling Brexit. Not least its Chancellor, Chris Patten. Honoury fellows including Lord Pannick, Lord Krebs, Lord Inglewood, Lord Stern, Lord Bilimoria, Baroness Wheatcroft, Baroness Boothroyd, and Lord Melvyn Bragg look out for Oxford too. All these peers voted against the EU Withdrawal Bill. Patten inserted an amendment on which the government was defeated

Not content with that, the university has bought some pollsters in. It hired Populus, whose founder and director is Andrew Cooper, or Lord Cooper of Windrush, the disastrous former Cameron pollster and… member of the Lords. He voted against the EU Withdrawal Bill too…

Oxford quite literally has its own caucus in the Lords. It might as well run its own whip…

Lidington: “Hopes” Backstop Over by 2022

Three days ago the government said it “expects” the backstop to have ended by December 2021. Now Lidington says his “hope” is that it’s over by the 2022 election. Does anyone believe them? 

Richard Madeley Speaks for Britain Again

“If you stay in the customs union and the single market you’re not leaving… I’m sorry, this is democracy… that means leaving… the Prime Minister said ‘Brexit means Brexit’… what we are seeing as far as the government is concerned is lurching from one holding operation to the next… it’s time for proper leadership on this… let’s make it work, and I voted remain!”

Madeley ‘terminated’ Question Time’s Remainers…

DD “Outsmarted” By Robbins and Remainers

Worrying developments in the Cabinet row over Olly Robbins’ new sellout fudge potentially keeping us in the customs union forever. Remainers in the government are gloating that David Davis has been “outsmarted” by Robbins and briefing that he doesn’t have the balls to kill it.

If DD rolls over on this, we will be getting a Hotel California Brexit where we never leave the customs union. Brexiters need to fight for Brexit…

Majority of British Firms Say They Are ‘Well Placed’ To Capitalise on Global Markets

A clear majority of British firms are hungry to trade with non-EU countries outside the customs union post-Brexit, according to a new survey of 500 decision-makers. Most small and medium sized British companies say they are ‘internationally ambitious’ and wish to grow into overseas markets. New research from the International Business Festival finds:

  • 74% plan to to increase overseas revenue in the next three years;
  • 82% have a clear strategy for future target markets;
  • Three quarters of firms describe themselves as ambitious internationally and well-placed to capitalise on global opportunities (77% and 73%).

UK small business underlined its concerns about regulation, which has been identified as the biggest barrier to increasing exports. In addition, businesses want more help making contacts in new markets and mastering technology. The appetite for global trade is strong ‘despite Brexit’. Number 10 needs to make sure we are not tied closely to a customs union that prevents this…

Now Robbins Tries to Fudge Backstop Time Limit

Disturbing reports from Sam Coates that May’s Brexit adviser Olly Robbins is attempting to fudge the time-limit on Number 10’s Northern Ireland backstop. Brexiters had previously been assured that the backstop – which pledges to keep the UK in the customs union beyond 2021 if no other arrangement is agreed – would be strictly time-limited. It is now being reported that Robbins is attempting to fudge the time-limit. If this happens it is going to be a Hotel California Brexit – we are never going to leave. This is going to kick off – it should be completely unacceptable to Brexiters…

No. 10 Blocks Cabinet From Seeing Brexit White Paper

Theresa May has broken her deadline of publishing the government’s Brexit white paper this month after signalling it won’t now appear until after the EU summit this month. David Davis is kicking off and threatening a Cabinet protest. Guido understands the white paper is finished, ready and waiting to go but is being blocked by a combination of Number 10, the Treasury and HMRC. Downing Street is refusing to even share it with Cabinet ministers, despite requests to see it. This has caused almost as much annoyance as – yet another – delay to the Brexit plan. It is a joke that the UK is going into the next summit with the EU having delayed May’s promise to give “precise” details about what she wants from Brexit by now. It is ridiculous that Cabinet ministers are not being involved in the process. This delay is yet more evidence Number 10 is fudging Brexit and putting us on a path to staying very close to the EU…

12,000 Sign Petition to Save Penka From Sick EU Killers

More than 12,000 signatures have been amassed in an online petition to save a pregnant Bulgarian cow from death at the hands of the bloodthirsty European Union. Penka, who lives on a farm in Kopilovtsi, Bulgaria, strayed from her herd and wandered over the Serbian border last month – thereby entering a non-EU state. According to strict EU rules, she must now be slaughtered…

Vets have vouched for Penka’s good health since she arrived back in Bulgaria. But whenever animals enter the EU they must be accompanied by a volume of certificates and documentation. Box-ticking officials have sentenced pregnant Penka to death…

A petition to save her is gaining huge momentum. Sign it here…

Carole Cadwalladr: I’m Unaware of Any Allegations of Remain Cheating

Top investigative journalist Carole Cadwalladr has told the European Parliament she is unaware of any allegations of the Remain campaign breaching spending rules during the referendum:

“I am unaware of any issues on the Remain side. There is none that I have come across. There is none that I understand the Electoral Commission has come across… if there are then I very much hope that journalists uncover this and it will be investigated.”

Carole must have missed the dossier of evidence about Remain cheating handed to the Electoral Commission this weekend. And the fact that the Electoral Commission has said they are looking into it. Guido is glad to hear Carole’s commitment to exposing Remain campaigners as well and looks forward to reading about it in next weekend’s Observer…

“Professional Coach” to Train Anti-Brexit Flash Mob at EU Summit

A lame anti-Brexit flash mob will ‘perform’ at the EU summit in Brussels next month. Bulgarian liberal MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk is plotting the protest. He is trying to recruit participants via email, in the process revealing that the anti-democracy protesters will undertake “training” with a “professional coach” for the next four weeks:

“Do you want to support the EU and help fight Brexit?

[…] Read the rest

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