Hammond: No Deal and I’ll Make UK Tax Haven of Europe

Fighting talk from Phil Hammond, who tells German paper Die Welt he will make Britain the tax haven of Europe if the EU refuses to agree a reasonable Brexit deal:

“If we have no access to the European market, if we are closed off, if Britain were to leave the European Union without an agreement on market access, then we could suffer from economic damage at least in the short-term. In this case, we could be forced to change our economic model and we will have to change our model to regain competitiveness. And you can be sure we will do whatever we have to do. The British people are not going to lie down and say, too bad, we’ve been wounded. We will change our model, and we will come back, and we will be competitively engaged.”

As everyone obsesses about Theresa May’s plan, worth remembering that Brussels ultimately decides the deal on offer. This is more like it from Hammond in terms of Britain’s negotiating strategy: we can give the EU plenty of carrots to give us a good deal – tariff free trade with the UK market for example – we can also give them a few sticks too. Ideally Britain would become the tax haven of Europe anyway…

Benn’s Brexit Committee Bunfight

Hilary Benn’s Brexit select committee has descended into its first inevitable bunfight after it published a report demanding a significant transition arrangement before we fully leave the EU. As Guido reported yesterday, Remainers want to use a ‘transition’ lasting several years to buy time and prevent a real Brexit. Predictably, the Remain majority Brexit select committee has suggested it wants the same. Karl McCartney, a Leave committee member, has broken ranks to blast his committee’s own report:

“I believe this Report is flawed in certain areas, which should not be a surprise given that the majority of the (mainly Labour and SNP) MPs elected to it voted for us to Remain… I entirely reject the Remain MPs’ calls in respect of transitional arrangements on trade and tariffs, nor do I accept some of the more emotive and negative language from the Remain side of the argument. I had hoped that a more collegiate view would have prevailed, but some of those representing the minority Parties are obviously not of the same opinion, and so this Select Committee seems to be determined to operate in a different way to others. These MPs, I fear, are seeking to thwart the democratic will of the 17½ million people who voted to Leave the European Union by taking part in the largest democratic vote our Country has had. Prolonged transitional arrangements are in neither the UK’s, nor indeed the EU’s, interests – they would merely prolong the uncertainty for businesses and everyone else.”

Change Britain, which has Brexit select committee member Michael Gove among its supporters, is also unimpressed. Gisela Stuart says:

“There are sensible practical arguments that can be made in favour of negotiating a transitional deal to give businesses time to prepare as we leave the EU. However, any such arrangements must be time limited and must not be used by those who refuse to accept the referendum result to keep the UK in the EU by the back door.”

A swift transitional period may be sensible, a prolonged delay is a Remain attempt to prevent a real Brexit…

Daily Politics Guide to Brexit

Click to enlarge

A handy Brexit glossary courtesy of the Daily Politics. Guido particularly enjoyed the Despite Brexit section…

Gove Sets Standard For May

Theresa May has the chance to squash the specious narrative that she has no Brexit plan with her big speech on Tuesday. In today’s Times Michael Gove sets the standard she must meet to satisfy Leavers: she should say for the first time that Britain will leave the EU “completely“, in a process taking “months not years”, and that this means leaving the single market and customs union. For those paying attention the government’s plan is discernible. Free movement will end, therefore single market membership will end and we will seek a deal on ‘access’. David Davis has outlined different options on leaving the customs union. If no reasonable settlement is forthcoming we walk away. It is simpler and more straightforward than the fashionable confusion/denial of Remain pundits. 

The Gove standard requires the process to take “months not years”. May and Philip Hammond have signalled that there will be some sort of transitional arrangement before we fully leave. May has said: “There will of course be a necessity for adjustment to those new arrangements”. Now, Remainers see this as their golden chance. If the transition takes years, during which Britain remains in the single market, essentially in the EU, perhaps with an ’emergency brake’ on immigration, Remainers can buy time to argue for a second referendum or try to prevent a real Brexit. Gove makes clear Leave MPs will not abide such a delay. Michel Barnier’s timetable requires ratification by March 2019, leaving 14 months before the 2020 election. Leave voters will be unforgiving if we are still in the EU when they go to the polls. The standard is set: May’s Tuesday speech needs to commit to a real Brexit outside the single market and customs union and a process of departure taking months not years…

Brexit Means Leaving the Single Market

Merkel and the EU have been clear: you cannot be a member of the single market without freedom of movement. Theresa May has been clear: we are taking back control of our borders. Since October the PM’s language has confirmed Britain’s membership of the single market will end. Ministers have even said this on the record. As much as the LibDems today scream about ‘hard Brexit’, this is just Brexit. Theresa May’s evasive non-answers to Sophy Ridge were a largely pointless exercise. She is right that a good trade relationship with the EU and single market membership is not a binary issue, as Guido has shown with the US, China, Japan and South Korea among others. May can clear up the simple point of membership once and for all and put Remainers out of their misery. It’s mad that Westminster is still wasting time wondering if single market membership will continue, that was decided on June 23…

83 Days Until Article 50 Trigger Deadline

The clock is running…

84 Days Until Article 50 Trigger Deadline

The clock is running…

Brexiteers Welcome Tim Barrow as New EU Ambassador

Foreign Office political director Tim Barrow has been appointed as Ivan Rogers’ replacement as EU ambassador. Who he? A career diplomat of 30 years who was the ambassador to Russia and head of the FCO’s Russia section, as well previously serving in two senior positions in Brussels. A Boris ally with a famous beard, but well and truly part of the Foreign Office machine and hardly the Brexiteer this morning’s Telegraph claimed would be chosen. That said, Brexiteers are welcoming the appointment: Vote Leave Tory MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan says it is “great news” and that Barrow is “eminently qualified”, Steve Baker says he is “ideally qualified” and a “first class appointment”, Owen Paterson endorses it as “a really good step”, Nadine Dorries says it is a “Very welcome appointment”, Boris Johnson says: “He is just the man to get the best deal for the UK”. Brexiteers will be happy with that result…

New Brexit £2 Coin

Above is the new £2 coin being released in 2017. Notice anything different from previous years? A numismatic co-conspirator observes that on the new coin Britannia is facing to the left, or west, with her back to Europe and looking out into the world. A marked difference from her appearance on the old 1d and 50p coins, where she is facing to the right, towards the continent:

Britannia for Brexit!

IEA Wonk Could Be Trump’s EU Ambassador

Institute of Economic Affairs advisory council member Dr Ted Malloch is being interviewed by Donald Trump this week for the role of his EU ambassador. Theodore Roosevelt Malloch, to give his full name, is a distant relative of President Roosevelt who Maggie Thatcher once dubbed a “global sherpa” thanks to his decades of work at various economic conferences and institutions. It’s good news for Britain if Anglophile Malloch gets the job, he tells City AM:

“In the UK, Brexiteers can take heart from the victory of another anti-establishment figure. His political sympathies for Brexit could lead him to prioritise a trade agreement with the UK once the country leaves the EU. It will also ensure a stronger US-UK Special Relationship.”

And his views on Brussels are sound too. He told Brexit Central last year:

“The elite that dominates EU decision-making is managerial, bureaucratic and socialist,” he says, “with a view to higher taxation and redistribution of wealth — all qualities the EU elite tout proudly, despite growing populist sentiment among an increasingly economically pressed middle class in virtually every EU-participating country. The US and the UK have cast their lot in the same direction and the Anglosphere will not only survive but thrive…

Would they want the United States to join anything like the EU — a federal superstate that curtails sovereignty? Of course the answer is NO! We wouldn’t want that in any way, shape or form. And the British already decided not to become part of the flawed euro currency and the European Central Bank. So here’s an interesting and novel alternative no pundit is yet suggesting, and I say it only half facetiously: why not hook up our horses together?”

Make the special relationship great again…

IDS: “Pompous” Ivan Rogers “Not God Almighty”

IDS sensibly says Westminster needs to calm down about the “sour grapes” of “pompous” Ivan Rogers: “He’s not God Almighty”. He has a point. Rogers was by many accounts an experienced civil servant respected in Brussels, yet his pessimism was also majorly responsible for Cameron’s failed renegotiation and his heart was clearly not in it. As Sky News illustrate, his resignation letter is more than a touch self-obsessed:

Rogers will no doubt go and make some money somewhere else, handing over to a committed successor who actually wants to help with Brexit. Which is hardly a bad thing…

85 Days Until Article 50 Trigger Deadline

The clock is running…

Brexit Means Bonfire of Costly Farming Regulations

Before Christmas Guido reported that Andrea Leadsom was the first Cabinet minister to produce a departmental plan for Brexit. Today the Environment Secretary reveals what Brexit means for farming: a bonfire of cumbersome regulations that currently cost the industry million of pounds a year. When we leave the EU Andrea’s farming minister George Eustice will end the ‘three crop rule’ regulating how many different crops farms must plant. Defra say this will allow 40,000 farmers to grow the foods people want and add millions to the economy.

Barmy Brussels diktats defining what makes a hedge a hedge or when a puddle becomes a pond will be binned. Paperwork required from flood-hit farmers will be reduced, as will the number of expensive government inspections. Most satisfying of all: farms will no longer have to pay for and display ridiculous 6ft by 4ft propaganda billboards publicising the EU contribution for grants, as they are currently required to do. Millions saved, millions added to the economy, hundreds of thousands of hours saved. As the old joke almost goes, how does the Environment Secretary compare with colleagues on Brexit? She’s outstanding in her field…

86 Days Until Article 50 Trigger Deadline

Just a friendly reminder to the PM that she has, by Guido’s count, 86 days until her self-imposed deadline for the triggering of Article 50. Assuming she takes it all the way to Friday, March 31st…

The Times reported on Monday that she’ll trigger it in time for a European summit on March 9-10. The sooner the better…

Farewell Then, Sir Ivan Rogers

Sir Ivan Rogers, Britain’s ambassador to the EU, has quit ahead of schedule rather than stick around to help work on Brexit. A £170,000-a-year former Ken Clarke aide, Rogers is seen by some as a caricature of an arch-Eurocrat, though others in Brussels say this is an over-simplification. What is certain is that Rogers was an obstacle to David Cameron seeking proper reform of the EU during his renegotiation. As Tim Shipman reveals in his unrivalled referendum book All Out War, Cameron’s aides blame Rogers for blocking them from seeking a better deal on immigration and the ECJ:

‘We were too beholden to Tom Scholar and Ivan Rogers,’ one Cameron adviser said. ‘They were status quo. They were happy to take “No” for an answer, happy to believe things weren’t possible when they could be possible. I’ve lost count of the number of times Ivan threatened to resign.’ The politicos say Rogers was aggressive in dismissing their arguments, and went over their heads to Cameron: ‘He would send emails that were the stuff of legend, saying why didn’t we know anything? We were just politicos, we didn’t understand.’ Another aide said Rogers’ emails were ‘notorious’.

Rogers also clashed with the special advisers over their desire to include reforms of the European Court of Justice in the renegotiation. ‘Korski had a long-running battle with officials saying that we needed to do something, and he kept getting told that it was impossible to do something,’ a Number 10 source said. A range of proposals were put forward, ranging from new rules on the selection of judges to proposals for the EC] to get out of lower-level decisions. Their advocates believe the plan would have allowed Britain to get a serious review of the court on the agenda. It was rejected by officials over the summer.

In the end Cameron’s renegotiation strategy of asking for very little rather than demanding genuine reform was fatal. Rogers was instrumental in that, and since the referendum he has been sulking and saying it’ll take 10 years to come up with a trade deal. A chance now for someone less pessimistic and more ambitious to take over… 

Gloomy Wonks are EU-Funded Europhiles

Britain will be “older, more unequal and blighted by Brexit”, according to a gloomy new report from the IPPR think tank. Apparently there will be a decade of disaster and misery caused by the Leave vote. Two things the Guardian didn’t include in their write-up: The IPPR was formerly run by the head of the Remain campaign Will Straw. It is funded by the EU. Probably worth mentioning…

Christmas Repeats: Whitehall Union Boss Fills Empty Papers

Today’s papers went big on a whinge from Dave Penman, general secretary of the trade union of senior civil servants, complaining that Whitehall needs more resources because of Brexit. Easy copy for struggling on-duty reporters in the dead week before the New Year. But it really isn’t news…

Today Penman says: “The civil service is going to have to be given more resources to deal with Brexit”. The same point he made on November 23: “With no additional funding, departments will once again be asked to deliver ever more with ever less”. And November 15: “there is a deafening silence from Ministers over whether any additional resources will be provided to deliver this momentous task”. And October 12: “the Government needs to provide the civil service with the capability and capacity necessary to deliver a successful EU exit”. And September 2. And August 31. And July 5. And June 24. You get the idea.

It’s hardly a surprise that the boss of a trade union wants more cash. It’s not even new information either, he’s said the same thing every month since the vote. That’s the problem with the Christmas period: full of repeats…

Ireland Asserts Tax Sovereignty in European Commission Legal Battle

Ireland’s Finance Ministry is not holding back in the battle with the European Commission. In a legal briefing over the Apple Tax case the Irish government argues that:

  • The Commission has misunderstood the relevant facts and Irish law
  • The Commission has misapplied State Aid law
  • The Commission wrongly invokes novel legal rules
  • The Commission has exceeded its powers and interfered with national tax sovereignty

There is no doubt that the Commission is trying to use State Aid laws to thwart Ireland’s competitive tax regime over which the EU has no competence. Ironically if Ireland loses it gets a windfall of €13 billion in taxes (about €2,600 per person). That is enough to wipe out the budget deficit for a couple of years…

Nevertheless it is a fight that Ireland wants to win. Post-Brexit Ireland wants to be seen as corporate America’s best friend in the EU. Ireland is looking to a high-tech future across the Atlantic…

Ben Bradshaw: Russia Hacked EU Referendum

Ben Bradshaw goes off the deep end and tells the Commons Russian hackers “probably” engaged in cyber-warfare to help Leave win the EU referendum, despite admitting “we don’t have any evidence for that”. Sad.

Darling of Remainers Backs Brexit

Journalist Ian Dunt is known as one of Westminster’s most vocal Remainers. His Twitter feed since June has been a slow motion and at times emotional breakdown, this is what he wrote the day after the referendum:

Dunt is the go-to Remainer for political TV producers and he has even written a book lobbying MPs to obstruct a proper Brexit. […] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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