Downing Street: It is Still Chequers or No Deal

The reason May looked so shook yesterday at the Salzburg press conference is simply that she did not expect the rejection to come now or for them to be blunt to the point of humiliatingly rude. Macron positively rejoicing at the prospect of punishing Britain and Tusk claiming Chequers is dead, coupled with him mocking her crassly on Instagram do not signal diplomatic success for Olly Robbins.

The line this morning from Downing Street is, to coin a phrase, “nothing has changed”. This rejection is, they say, merely positioning in the final stages of a negotiation. Nobody else seems to agree. The EU is playing brutally hard ball and Downing Street has been hitherto firmly pragmatic. She needs to stick to what she told Nick Robinson at Chequers in the interview clip above. It is still possible that the EU will blink, Downing Street says they now have to. This is also the end of the line for can kicking by Theresa May, if she compromises beyond Chequers she will see more Cabinet resignations and the resignation of one of her top advisers. She can’t move politically on;

  • ending free movement
  • membership of the single market or the customs union
  • ending the jurisdiction of the ECJ
  • ending vast payments to the EU or paying for access to the single market
  • integrity of Britain and Northern Ireland

Macron’s approval rating is on the floor, bashing les Anglais is a vote winner, Ireland’s Leo Varadkar has no intention of being seen to be soft on the British. It is possible that EU leaders will blink, however not probable unless the they really believe the UK will actually go ahead with no deal, no much needed £39 billion contribution to the EU budget. Just a cheery au revoir and auf wiedersehen…

Czech and Maltese PMs Call For Second Referendum

Unusual breach of convention when heads of EU governments openly interfere in the political processes of another democratic state. The billionaire Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Andrej Babiš, told The Today Programme that:

“I’m very unhappy that the UK is leaving so maybe it would be better to have a second referendum and the people in the meantime could change their view, because Europe has a lot of problems we have problems with Mr Trump about tariffs, we have problems with sanctions on Russia, Brexit, migration, Turkey, and so on so for Europe it’s a quite difficult time and I was really shocked when the referendum was announced that there were so much people… for Czech Republic I regret very much.”

The Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat also told the programme:

“There is an almost unanimous point of view around the table [of the European Council] that we would like the almost impossible to happen, that the UK has another referendum. That being said I wouldn’t know what the result would be, whether it would be any different from the first.”

Last night at the summit dinner in the Felsenreitschule theatre in Salzburg, May told the EU’s leaders they had to compromise on the Irish border. The PM was firm that there will be no extension of Article 50 process and no second referendum. Malta’s PM Joseph Muscat is right about one thing, another referendum is almost impossible. The anti-Brexit neverendum campaigners are wasting their time. Time’s up and it is deal or no deal…

EU Votes to Ban Memes

The EU Parliament voted by a margin of 2:1 today to adopt Article 13 of the EU Copyright Directive, a stringent copyright restriction that has the potential to ban memes. MEPs were made to vote again after having voted to reject it in July. Sound familiar?

Article 13 requires web companies to automatically filter out any copyrighted content, from songs to videos to even pictures. Say goodbye to your favourite gifs, movie stills, or other potentially copyrighted material on any social network. 

Article 11 of the directive also is also deeply troubling for web freedom, in requiring internet companies to pay news outlets for hosting their content, potentially even just previews of articles.

This is just the latest anti-tech anti-consumer attack from the EU after they ludicrously fined Google billions of Euro’s earlier this year, and the year before.

This vote is not the end of the process, however. Every amendment passed today will have to go through behind-closed-doors negotiations between EU bureaucrats and EU member states. We can expect another vote on this ludicrous legislation in January 2019. Brexit can’t come soon enough…

EU Wastes £800,000 on “Too Big” TVs

In June the EU Parliament spent £800,000 replacing TVs in MEP offices with massive 43″ TVs. Now they realise the TVs are too big, and have offered to move them further away or to replace them with smaller ones all over again.

MEPs have been emailed by the European Parliament’s tech support team admitting the error:

“During the replacement of the TV in your office, we realised… the TV might be too close to the viewer. If you would prefer to move the new TV to a different position, or replace it by a smaller model, please feel free to contact the ITEC Service Desk for Members.”

UKIP MEP Jonathan Bullock tells Guido that this is “Another complete waste of money and another reason we are leaving.” Good to see our £40 billion divorce payment will be put to good use…

Japan’s EU Free Trade Deal

Good news yesterday that the EU and Japan signed a huge free trade deal on Tuesday that cuts or eliminates tariffs on nearly all goods. A major boost for the global trading system that is under increasing threat from Trumpian protectionism. Trade between the EU and Japan currently stands at €86 billion…

The deal does allow for some regulatory alignment in so much that, for example, car safety and environmental standards will be aligned, Japan will also adopt international labelling standards for textiles and medical products. Something rational brexiteers can live with so long as the regulatory alignment is not restrictive of non-export goods. What the agreement does not require is for Japan to join the customs union or the single market. It does not require the ECJ’s ultimate jurisdiction, instead a mediation panel and the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO will be the arbitration method. This is normal for free trade agreements.

Remainers can’t explain why the UK can’t have a similar deal with the EU. Anyone might think that the EU is just trying to frustrate Brexit…

MEPs Vote to Reject Transparency for Expenses ‘Second Salary’

MEPs last night voted down a long-awaited proposal to make their controversial General Expenditure Allowance (GEA) transparent to the public. The GEA is a tax-free, lump-sum monthly payment of €4,416 deposited directly into the private bank account of each MEP. This equates to €200 million of taxpayers’ money per term…

The shameful GEA is supposed to be used mainly for covering office rent and related costs in each MEP’s constituency. Politico found a third of MEPs do not maintain such an office or refused to disclose if they have one…

There have been multiple examples of MEPs using the GEA improperly – many privately regard it as a salary top-up. Former Labour MEP Peter Skinner clocked up £500,000 on expenses – splurged on holidays, hotels and jewelry – before being jailed for four years. UK MEPs voluntarily disclose their spending – most foreign MEPs are not required to do so or even keep records. Roll on Brexit…

Lord’s Speaker Fowler off to Romania for EU Junket

Lord (Norman) Fowler, a onetime newspaper hack who is now the not unpompous Speaker of the House of Lords, has been given ‘leave of absence today by the EU-loving House of Lords – to go on an EU-sponsored freebie. Fowler is attending the two-day annual piss-up important seminar of the Association of European Senates in Bucharest at one of the Ceaușescu‘s old palaces. This is an EU-backed outfit which aims to ‘strengthen European identity and awareness’.

Sitting on the Woolsack all day, Fowler may not have noticed or actually believe we are leaving the EU. How much is his freebie costing the taxpayer? And have you noticed how these foreign shindigs always happen at the end of a week, allowing participants to stay over for a few extra days of fact-finding/knees-upping? Sănătate!

Labour and Remain Voters Want Full Control of Trade Policy

A new poll from BMG for Change Britain finds that an overwhelming majority of voters – and clear majorities of Remain and Labour voters – say Britain must be completely free to strike its own trade deals after Brexit. 71% of voters agreed that we must be free to negotiate our own trade deals with other countries without involvement of the EU. Which means, Theresa and Jezza, not being part of any form of customs union.

Keir Starmer should take note, as 64% of Labour voters demanded the freedom to strike new trade deals. 60% of Remain voters agreed. Starmer has never managed to explain his unicorn policy of getting the EU to let us join a customs union that also allows us to strike our own free trade deals with other countries. This poll is effectively a resounding rejection of Labour’s customs union policy by Labour voters.

A majority of Remain voters also agreed that Brexit meant taking back control of trade policy, and 58% of Remainers said the referendum result must be respected. Both Number 10 and Starmer should take note – even Remainers want Brexit done properly…

Penka Saved!

Hooray! Bloodthirsty box-ticking EU officials have relented on their threat to have Penka the pregnant cow executed. Readers will remember Penka lived on a farm in Kopilovtsi, Bulgaria, where she strayed from her herd and wandered over the Serbian border last month, thereby entering a non-EU state and facing slaughter when she arrived back inside the EU’s borders. Following mass protests and a petition signed by more than 30,000 people (pat on the back for the Telegraph’s James Rothwell), the Bulgarian Food Standards Agency has said in a statement this morning that Penka will “be returned for cultivation in the site in the village of Mazarachevo”.

 Victory!

H/T @jamescrisp6

Corbyn Backs Free Movement With Fantasy Internal Market Amendment

Jeremy Corbyn appears to have sold out his decades-long position on the EU and backed a bosses’ Europe where the UK becomes a rule-taker to the internal market. Here is Corbyn’s new amendment in which he seems to pledge to sign up to EU rules on state aid and free movement:

This is a totally mad, unrealistic objective that could only be achieved by staying in the EU. Earlier today Corbyn said he rejected the Norway model and also claimed that under his proposed customs union the UK would be free to strike new trade deals with other countries. He is living in a fantasy land…

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…

EU Deletes Footage of Juncker Insulting Italians and Denies He Said It

The European Commission attempted to delete footage of Jean-Claude Juncker insulting Italians from its video service and his spokesman has tried to deny he called the country workshy and corrupt. Speaking at a Q&A yesterday, Juncker said:

“Italians must take care of the poor regions of Italy, which means more work, less corruption, seriousness. We will help them as we have always done, but do not face the game of discharging responsibility with the EU: a country is a country, a nation is a nation, countries first, Europe second.”

He also called for an end to “Russia-bashing”. When the Guardian reported Juncker’s words, his spokesman lied: “I do not understand that the president has used those words on Italy”, claiming they had been taken “out of context”. Full context here. The video of Juncker speaking was then removed from the European Commission audiovisual services website. It was later restored and Juncker’s comments were condemned as “unacceptable” by the Italian president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani. 

This comes a day after German MEP Markus Ferber sparked outcry after threatening that the Troika could “march into Rome and take over the finance ministry”.

Which in turn came a day after the EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger was forced to apologise after suggesting that the financial markets would show Italians they cannot vote for 5Star and League.

You can see why Remainers have been so quiet about how the EU has been behaving towards Italy over the last few days…

“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? Here is the chance to do that. We need energetic pro-Europeans ready to perform a flash mob dance at lunchtime on 28 June around Schuman and willing to spend a few hours practising. We also need volunteers to help with logistics, hold banners and distribute leaflets. Let’s put a bit of fun, rhythm and imagination into fighting Brexit and support the campaign for a People’s Vote on the Deal.

“What do you need to do?… Train with our professional coach for three or four once-weekly evening sessions in June. We’ll let you know the details of times and places for training when these are finalised.”

Sad.

UPDATE: Tory MEP David Campbell Bannerman said:

“Collusion between the EU and Remoaner groups is a serious matter, but this shows it is getting plain silly. A flash mob to support a Second Referendum is a good metaphor: like Soros’s campaign, it will be a lot of coordinated excitement & noise for a few minutes, then completely disappear.” 

EU Escalates Probe into Juncker-Selmayr Cronyism Scandal

The EU standards watchdog is escalating its investigation into the scandal-hit rise of Jean-Claude Juncker’s loathed sidekick Martin Selmayr, who was this year made Europe’s top civil servant. Juncker sparked outrage in Feburary when he parachuted his political Chief of Staff into the hugely powerful role as Secretary General of the European Commission. There were rumours that commissioners’ support was bought. EU civil servants revolted over Selmayr’s lack of experience – the German lawyer, who has never worked in even the most junior official role, is now in charge of 33,000 non-political staff. Concerns were also voiced that Selmayr’s appointment entrenched German bias at the top of the EU. Moreover, it was another predictable appointment in the pale, male and stale world of EU bureaucracy… 

In dramatic developments, the EU Ombudsman has now ordered Juncker’s office to disclose documents relating to the appointment of Selmayr, as well as answer questions over the appointment. A letter from the Ombudsman to Juncker states:

“All documents, whether in electronic or paper format, including correspondence, notes, memos, emails, and all legal advice, from 1 September 2017 until 18 April 2018, relating to the appointment of the new Secretary-General. This should include documents sent from Commissioners to their cabinets, documents within and between cabinets, as well as documents between Commissioners/cabinets and the Commission services.”

The Ombudsman is investigating multiple complaints that the appointment “did not comply with the EU Staff Regulations and with principles of good administration.” Juncker will have to answer questions over the process and propriety of the appointment…

The European Parliament already conducted its own investigation which concluded the appointment: “could be viewed as a coup-like action which stretched and possibly even overstretched the limits of the law”. UKIP MEP Jonathan Bullock said: “Even die-hard Europhiles are waking up to the fact that there is something rotten at the heart of Brussels. Junckers answers will be interesting; and to think that remainiacs want us to cling to this devious, corrupt organisation.” Trouble ahead for Jean-Claude…

Customs Partnership Would See UK Still Paying EU Billions

There is another problem with Number 10’s proposed customs partnership that hasn’t had much attention. In the unlikely event Brussels agrees to such a partnership, it would inevitably require the UK to continue to pay a substantial ratio of the customs revenues it collects to the EU. At present, the majority of UK customs revenues are paid to the EU – in 2017 the UK contributed £3.2 billion, or £60 million a week. Customs revenues make up over a third of the total UK net contribution to the EU…

Cabinet Brexiters need to ask Number 10:

  • what ratio of customs revenues collected would be paid to the EU under their customs partnership?
  • will the EU agree to rebate – or deduct from its overall customs contributions – revenues for goods which remain in the UK?

At present no one in the government seems to have an answer. It would be subject to negotiation, yet if we don’t like the answers there would be nothing we can do about it, as the clock is ticking down and there is no Plan B. As Open Europe’s Henry Newman points out:

“if the Government is to consider the Customs Partnership further, it needs to be clear that it would likely mean the UK continuing to pay a substantial proportion of any customs revenues collected at our borders to the EU. Whatever its merits, a Customs Partnership could entail the UK paying very large sums of money to the EU in the long-term – something the Government has so-far ruled out”

Continuing to pay the EU potentially billions of pounds does not seem to meet May’s red line of taking back control of money. This is £60 million a week that could, to coin a phrase, be spent on the NHS instead…

Lord Moat: Brexit Only an Interim Decision

Douglas Hogg, the disgraced former Tory minister who filed a £2,000 expenses claim to have his moat cleaned, has tabled his “Stop Brexit” motion in the Lords this afternoon. The amendment, backed by Labour and LibDem Remainers, seeks to allow parliament to control the negotiations, including extending the negotiating process and potentially keeping us in the EU indefinitely. It is a naked attempt by Hogg and other Remain peers to reverse Brexit. As he told the Lords: “At the very best Brexit was only an interim decision”. Left the Commons in disgrace as the poster boy for the expenses scandal, then tried to stop Brexit from the Lords. What a contribution to public life.

Brexit Will Cost EU €3 Billion in Lost Tariffs

While everyone is discussing the Customs Union it gives EuroGuido a chance to highlight the tariff costs of staying in the protectionist bloc that liberal remainers pretend is a “free trade” area. The EU claims as its so-called ‘own resources’ customs duties and sugar levies. Member countries keep 20% of the customs duties raised in each member country to cover the cost of collection and the other 80% is sent is to Brussels. British consumers pay over £3 billion-a-year of the €20 billion total (give or take the odd billion). That works out at nearly a €1-a-week from every man and woman and child in the EU. This burden will rise when Britain leaves and the citizens still trapped in the EU will have to make up the shortfall to keep eurocrats counting their tax-free salaries and pension pots from the comfort of their chauffeur-driven limos…

If post-Brexit Britain abolishes the customs duties that were sent to Brussels it will mean some €4 billion-a-year off household bills. You can see why the EC opposes real free trade and cutting import tariffs – if they lost the revenue from tariffs they would have no budget to spend on themselves. Treble billions all gone!

Khan: Give EU Migrants Preferential Treatment Over Non-EU Migrants

One of the advantages of Brexit is we can now have a fair immigration system that treats people from outside the EU the same as people from inside. Would be a shame if the government sides with the Remainers and shows a lack of ambition on this too…

‘Young People Voted For Brexit Too’

Not sure this was quite what Question Time were expecting from their youth audience last night…

Victory For Global Britain As Franco-Dutch Blue Passports Deal Saves Taxpayers £50m*

Twitter Remainers and a few protectionist Brexiteers seem to think the contract for blue passports going to a Franco-Dutch company is a bad thing. It seems like good news to Guido and anyone who believes in free trade. Remainers have spent the last 21 months claiming Brexit Britain would be an inward-looking nation and that trade with the EU would suffer.[…] Read the rest

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