Watson: Labour Could Keep UK in Single Market and Customs Union Permanently

Tom Watson confirms Labour could keep Britain in the single market and customs union permanently and admits Labour is the party of “soft Brexit”. Soft Brexit is a term only used by Remainers, staying in the single market and customs union is not taking back control of borders and trade, it is for all intents and purposes staying in the EU.

It was obvious Labour Remainers were seeking a permanent transition which keeps us in all the institutions of the EU, Watson has confirmed Labour would ignore much of their Leave-voting base…

Fox: We Won’t Be Blackmailed

Worth reading Pieter Cleppe from Open Europe on why the EU is likely to soften its position and break the deadlock on trade talks and the divorce bill. Davis’ theme yesterday that the UK is being pragmatic and it’s the EU being obstinate is gaining traction…

DD: UK More Flexible and Pragmatic Than EU

Hard to disagree with Davis on this key point. Even Barnier admitted he was constrained by the mandate given to him by the EU27 at the last European Council…

Remain Hacks Confused as May Confirms No Deal Is Still Better Than a Bad Deal

If you believed Fleet Street’s finest over the last few weeks, Theresa May’s “no deal is better than a bad deal” rhetoric is dead. Several of the Remain media’s wisest minds were writing this as recently as yesterday…

Sky News, 21 June: “One former minister told Sky News that ‘no deal is now dead’… Number 10 has toned down its language on the issue since the election.”

James Kirkup, 23 August: “Theresa May’s ‘no deal’ bravado is a thing of the past… May has come a long way from the days of ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’.”

The Scotsman, 28 August: “Mrs May and her Cabinet have softened their stance… distancing themselves from her rhetoric that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’.”

George Parker, FT, 29 August: “The British prime minister’s ‘hard Brexit’ rhetoric and threat to leave the EU without a deal died in June.”

David Allen Green, FT, 29 August: “Remember the “no deal is better than a bad deal” swaggering? What a reversal.”

In Japan today the travelling Lobby asked May if she still thought no deal is better than a bad deal. She replied:

“Yes.”

Doh!

Obviously the government would prefer a good deal with the EU, however it has to be prepared to walk away in the event of a punishing offer from Brussels. To not be prepared to walk away from a bad deal is to be prepared to accept any deal offered. This was always the case, it remains the case, it is just common sense for the negotiations, despite what Remain publications have wrongly been telling their readers this past month. Some Brexit reporting from supposedly respectable remainstream journalists is just fantasy…

Remain Papers Backing Juncker

The coverage of some newspapers breathlessly endorsing Juncker’s nonsense today is remarkable. Not sure siding with Jean-Claude is a great look for Remainers…

UPDATE: Iain Martin agrees over on Reaction.

Juncker’s Nonsense About Ireland

Jean-Claude Juncker has been chatting even more nonsense than usual this morning. He’s claimed the EU has received “no definitive response” from the UK about the Irish border. This is baffling – the UK has published a position paper on Ireland and the EU hasn’t!

Juncker then said it’s “crystal clear” that we can’t talk about the future relationship before solving divorce issues. It is notable that the Irish Taoiseach, an EU head of state, agrees with the UK and wants to discuss both now in order to make progress on the Irish border. It is Brussels holding that up.

A Commission “official” has meanwhile briefed Politico that Britain is using the peace process as a bargaining chip: “We are a bit concerned by the combination in the U.K. paper between the preservation of the peace process and the future of the EU-U.K. trade relationship. It is very important that the peace process does not become a bargaining chip in these negotiations”. Who is really using Irish issues as a bargaining chip: the UK, which is seeking “swift progress”, published a position paper and has the support of Dublin, or the EU, which hasn’t even published a position paper…

Labour Remainers Call For Permanent Transition to Reverse Brexit

Yesterday Labour’s Heidi Alexander, the MP who tried to block the triggering of Article 50 in January, confirmed that Remainers are seeking a permanent transition to prevent Brexit:

Richard Madeley: “Do you secretly hope that the four years turns to six years, and then eight years, and then ten years and then we just gradually drift into a kind of a half way house relationship?”

Heidi Alexander: “I think that if there isn’t a better offer on the table then staying in the Single Market and Customs Union permanently would be the right thing for the country.”

A never-ending transition that keeps us in all the institutions of the EU and buys time for a second referendum has been telegraphed as the key Remain strategy since the turn of the year. As Guido wrote in January:

“Remainers see this as their golden chance. If the transition takes years, during which Britain remains in the single market, essentially in the EU, Remainers can buy time to argue for a second referendum or try to prevent a real Brexit.”

The ultra-Remain CBI proposed the same last month, consistent with the permanent transition plan. At the time we noted:

“One of the most senior Remain figures from the referendum told Guido himself they wanted a lengthy transition lasting years, by which point they hoped the public mood had changed and Brexit could be prevented.”

Now you are getting prominent Labour Remainers saying this publicly, from Heidi Alexander to Stewart Wood:

“I think if I was a Brexiter I’d be worried that over the next three of four years if a transition deal lasts that long that other circumstances will change and the will to move on from transition stage to full Brexit might be less present than it is now. I think that’s definitely a possibility.”

And Stephen Bush:

Which is why the government must ensure the transition is strictly time-limited and as short as possible, ideally one or two years. Can’t say Remainers haven’t warned you…

EFTA Court Model Wins Backing of Key Brexiteers

We will find out more later, though it looks like the government is proposing to copy large aspects of the EFTA court to resolve future trade disputes with the EU. As has been evident for a while. This meets the key Brexiteer requirement of ending the jurisdiction of the ECJ. There is going to be international arbitration post-Brexit, on the face of it this seems a pragmatic, voluntary way of doing it. At this stage a lot of key Brexiteers are on board…

Bill Cash: “The great advantage of the EFTA model is that it is completely independent of the EU yet follows the decisions of the ECJ for the most part, but not always.”

Mark Wallace, ConservativeHome: “There is a world of difference between international and supranational organisations; the EFTA court rules on the implementation of a static and mutually agreed set of rules, while the ECJ is an activist body, pursuing greater integration over the heads of national authorities.”

The Sun: “One answer could be to join the court of the European Free Trade Association — as used by Norway. EFTA president Carl Baudenbacher says it would allow Britain to trade freely while ditching the hated ECJ. It’s not often that Europe offers us a decent deal. We should take him up on it.”

Dominic Raab: “As a voluntary matter of practice, totally within our control, of course the UK will keep half an eye on what the EU does.”

Dan Hannan: “The objection to the ECJ is that it overrides national laws and rules with direct applicability. No objection to an arbitration mechanism. Immense difference between a court having direct jurisdiction in the U.K. and paying regard to overseas judgments (which we always do).”

Hugh Bennett, BrexitCentral: “The EFTA model is interesting because it certainly is different in the way it operates from the ECJ. There isn’t this principle of direct effect on UK law which is obviously a big issue with the ECJ. It’s not politically motivated in the same way the ECJ is.”

Bill Cash might be a fan but some Tory MPs are against the EFTA model. As always the Mogg is being difficult for the government:

Jacob Rees-Mogg: “One of the rulings of the EFTA court is that it wishes to be as close as possible to the European Court of Justice because it believes that there should be homogeneity. It doesn’t diverge from the European Court of Justice in normal circumstances.”

Naturally Remain newspapers and Kippers are calling the EFTA court model a climbdown but most Tory Brexiteers always knew there would be some form of international arbitration system. Let’s see what the government proposes today, but expect other prominent Brexiteers to come out in favour…

Nick Timothy’s Lessons From Yanis

Those Tories uncomfortable with Nick Timothy’s more statist policy platform will be amused to see he is a disciple of Yanis Varoufakis. The book beardless Timothy is reading is the Greek firebrand’s “My Battle with Europe’s Deep Establishment”. Nick was one of the leading Brexiters in the government before he quit, no doubt he and Yanis have some shared experiences…

Transition Must Be Short Enough to Keep UK Appealing to New Trade Partners

As Guido reported yesterday morning, most Leave Tory MPs are on board with David Davis’ customs union plan. The influential European Research Group of 80+ Tory Brexiteers last night gave their blessing to the “welcome” proposal. What Leave MPs do want is for the transition period to be as short as possible. Leave Tories have indicated they support a time-limited transition completed by the next election, though they would obviously prefer it lasted closer to 1-2 years than 3. They have several arguments for this. One, the transition phase must be short enough to keep the UK appealing to new trade partners – a very important point which is being argued by Leave MPs at the moment. Two, it must be strictly time-limited and short enough to allay concerns it could be used to keep the UK in the EU by the back door. Three, Tory MPs believe it is vital voters see as much progress as possible on the results of Brexit, on immigration and new trade deals, before the next election. As we said yesterday, that means the transition finishing with time to spare…

This is the latest “Cabinet row erupts” story in the papers. When you consider previous “splits” on the single market, customs union etc, a debate boiling down to a matter of a few months is relatively small fry. As Guido has said for some time, there is a broad Cabinet consensus on the trajectory of the Brexit process – Stephen Pollard is worth a read on this today. It is nonetheless important for Leave MPs to keep up the pressure on the length of the implementation phase. The shorter the transition the better it is for trade deals, and the less likely it is for Britain to stay in the EU by the back door…

BBC Meets Young Leave Voters

The BBC meets young Leave voters to dispel Remain myths about Brexiteers. Not the sort of output you’d expect from the Beeb…

Victory For Hammond? Proposal Meets Tory Leavers’ Demands

The Times and FT predictably report today’s proposal for a temporary customs union with the EU during the transition period as a victory for Philip Hammond. Is this true? Back in June Guido told you what most Tory Leavers want:

“Leavers want Britain fully out of the single market and customs union within two or three years, well in time for the next election. Tory MPs are concerned that the public will want to see progress on immigration and trade deals by the time they next vote. One of David Davis’ main reasons for lobbying Theresa May to call a snap election was so Brexit could be fully completed by the next election.”

DD’s proposal clearly meets the requirements of Tory Leavers so long as the transition period is short, time-limited and trade deals can be struck well in time for the next election, so voters can see evidence of progress in Brexit Britain. Guido has spoken to various Leave Tory sources this morning who support today’s plan so long as the implementation phase is as brief as possible and those trade deals can be struck with time to spare. As has always been the case. Backbench Brexiter Bernard Jenkin sums up the view of Tory Leavers:

“Anything that smooths our exit and gives business reassurance is good but it depends how long this transition period is. We must not look hobbled in our trading relationships with non-EU countries.”

Privately Tory Leavers feel these “victory for Hammond” headlines on policies they also support are a price worth paying to help build consensus. Last month Remain papers called the transition itself a victory for Hammond, even though the vast majority of Tory Leavers support it. The reality is a transition has always been sensible and inevitable, supported by Tory Leavers so long as their conditions are met. Today’s proposal meets those conditions on paper, over to the EU…

Hammond and Fox Dash Remain Media’s Wishful Thinking

Back in June, Guido told you a consensus was forming between Hammond, Fox et al on a time-limited 2-3 year transition outside the single market and customs union. As other publications breathlessly reported on Cabinet splits and Brexit coming off the rails, we wrote:

“Everyone in government including Philip Hammond agrees on a destination outside the single market and customs union… Hammond and Leavers now agree on a “softer landing”, so long as the transition is short and time-limited… this seems to Guido a sensible approach for a smooth, real Brexit.”

Yesterday Hammond and Fox dashed the hopes of the less reality-based Remainers, writing a joint article for the Sunday Telegraph confirming what Guido readers already knew:

“We will leave the customs union and be free to negotiate the best trade deals around the world as an independent, open, trading nation. We will leave the single market, because there was a vote for change on June 23rd and that is what we will deliver… We believe a time-limited interim period will be important to further our national interest and give business greater certainty – but it cannot be indefinite; it cannot be a back door to staying in the EU.”

A lot of what is being published by the FT, Guardian and Evening Standard at the moment is wishful thinking, and sometimes just plain wrong. For weeks they reported the government was being torn apart by splits over the transition. Then Osborne’s Standard praised Hammond for securing victory on the transition and said the government had made the “right call”. Today Remainers are moaning Hammond has “caved in”. The reality has been clear for some time for those willing to see it: a time-limited 2-3 year transition outside the single market and customs union. As Guido readers have known for months…

Remoaners Lose as Voters Strongly Back ‘Hard’ Brexit

Remoaners have lost their battle to derail Brexit as the public overwhelmingly backs a ‘hard’ exit from the EU. A major new study from the LSE and Oxford University shows even remain voters now generally reject the ‘soft’ Brexit policies advocated by the remoan lobby. The findings refute the often-repeated claim that Britain is deeply divided over Brexit: in reality, both leavers and remainers are broadly united behind a ‘hard’ Brexit on almost every major issue. The study, seen by BuzzFeed, shows:

  • 67% of people surveyed prefer the so-called “no deal” outcome to a ‘soft’ Brexit
  • 68% of people surveyed would choose a ‘hard’ Brexit over a ‘soft’ Brexit

Remain voters tend to support so-called ‘hard’ Brexit positions on most major negotiation points:

  • The majority of remain voters oppose the continuation of free movement. Instead, they tend to back ‘some’ or ‘full’ control over UK borders, even if that means lower EU immigration levels than now;
  • Remain voters do not want the UK to be subject to ‘all EU laws and all ECJ decisions’;
  • Remain voters tend to support paying a smaller rather than larger divorce bill to the EU, and would support paying no bill at all;
  • Remain voters do not support continuing massive payments to the EU;
  • Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru, and Lib Dem voters only marginally preferring a ‘soft’ Brexit to a ‘no deal’ outcome (by around 60/40).

Professor Sara Hobolt of the LSE said:

“Overall… there is on aggregate higher levels of support for outcomes that resemble the ‘hard Brexit’ position put forward by the government. Remain voters are willing to acknowledge that there are key negotiation outcomes – e.g. limits to freedom of movement – that they may not like, but that these outcomes still respect the referendum vote and are therefore legitimate. In other words, Remain voters concede that the features that lead them to prefer a particular negotiation outcome do not, in fact, respect the referendum.”

The study will be seen as a bodyblow to the metropolitan remoan class whose views are evidently not shared by the country as a whole. This exposes die-hard remainers as having the extreme position relative to the ordinary population. In all but 11 of 42 possible Brexit scenarios presented to the 3,293 participants, remain and leave voters were within five percentage points of one another. Conclusive proof that the public backs Brexit…

City Envoy Slams “Bewildering” Brussels

The City’s envoy to the EU has slammed the “bewildering” approach of Brussels to Brexit negotiations. In a dossier of dispatches seen by City AM, former LibDem Home Office minister and City of London Corporation special representative Jeremy Browne wrote:

“The inability of Brussels to comprehend British politics, or read the British character at the most elementary level, is bewildering… [there is] a recognition of the scale of the City of London, and acknowledgment that inflicting excessive harm on London would have negative consequences for the EU27 as well as for Britain”.

Browne said that EU efforts to pick on the City were motivated by:

“[a] supervisory and quasi-nationalistic desire to prevent business continuing as usual in London post-Brexit… they are affronted by the idea of London remaining brazenly unaffected.”

Tough…

EU Mired in Summer of Food Safety Scandals

Europe’s egg contamination scandal is finally making headlines in Britain after a small batch tainted with a toxic insecticide reached the UK from the Netherlands. On the continent, the situation is worse. Millions of eggs have been withdrawn from sale in Germany, and around 180 Dutch farms have been shut down. The German government has called the scandal a “criminal case”; the Belgian government admitted it knew about the contamination in June but didn’t speak out. It is only the latest in a number of food safety scandals to hit the EU this summer…

Poland – Europe’s biggest poultry exporter – is in a salmonella crisis. By the end of July this year, 29 cases of salmonella from Polish chicken had been reported, compared to a total of 27 during the whole of 2016. Poland’s public health institute says 4,247 patients have been so far treated for salmonella contamination, the highest number for ten years. Calling for more EU regulation isn’t an answer: EU legislators are already stuck in administrative deadlock over the use of formaldehyde to prevent the disease spreading further. The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed has been considering the question for more than two years…

Meanwhile, the European Food Safety Authority was slammed in an independent report which found it is plagued by financial conflicts of interest. Close to half of the scientists on its expert panel have a financial relationship with one of the firms the EFSA regulates. A study by the Corporate Europe Observatory found: “46% of [EFSA] panel members have at least one financial conflict of interest with a regulated company.” Elected MEPs in the European Parliament have been telling the EFSA to address the problem for four years, but to no avail. What was all that about ‘chlorine chicken’?

Ignore the Remain Spin: Tory Leavers Support Transition

There is a huge amount of guff being written after Philip Hammond confirmed plans for a two to three year Brexit transition period. George Osborne’s Evening Standard asks “Does Brexit still mean Brexit?”. The New Statesman talks of a “lost battle” for Brexiters. Other prominent Remainers on Twitter are talking this up as a win for them and a defeat for Leavers. As with so much of the frankly dire Brexit analysis in the media at the moment, this is complete rubbish.

Guido readers will know that Tory Leavers supported a time-limited transition lasting two or three years, at the end of which we are fully out of the single market and customs union. That is what we wrote last month. It is essentially exactly what Hammond has announced today. The key for Leavers is that the transition is just that – a transition to Brexit and not a means of keeping us in the institutions of the EU indefinitely. Hammond today agreed it must be over by 2022.

The destination is the same: a clean, proper Brexit. Sensible Leavers are perfectly fine with a journey lasting two or three years to make sure we get there smoothly. Worth reading Andrew Lilico on this. Liam Fox – no Brexit sell out – said the same on Marr on Sunday. David Davis has just hired Stewart Jackson to help run the Brexit department, hardly a sign they are about to betray Leave voters. There is so much nonsense and Remainer wishful thinking being written by people who should know better – if you read Guido’s post from last month you will know today’s announcement is no evidence of a Brexit betrayal. To answer Osborne’s question: “Does Brexit still mean Brexit?” Sorry George, yes it does…

Labour’s Brexit Shambles

Completely clueless… and that’s just this week…

Amazon, Mini, EasyJet in Brexit Good News Hat-Trick

A hat-trick of #DespiteBrexit good news today, as three major employers strengthen their commitment to Brexit Britain. EasyJet has announced its largest ever intake of new cabin crew, recruiting an enormous 1,200 extra staff. More than half of that number will be based at London Gatwick. EasyJet became notorious for its sky-high levels of Remain rhetoric before the EU referendum; chief executive Carolyn McCall said Brexit “would not be good at all” for the airline. Good for those extra staff, though…

From the skies to the roads: BMW have announced that the new electric model of the iconic Mini will be manufactured in the UK, not in Germany. The car will be built at the firm’s Cowley plant, near Oxford. Business Secretary Greg Clark said the move was a sign that the UK is now “the go-to place in the world for the next generation of vehicles“. BMW were involved in a letter from car industry executives ‘leaked’ to the Guardian which claimed:

“For BMW Group, more than half of Minis built and virtually all the engines and components made in the UK are exported to the EU, with over 150,000 new cars and many hundreds of thousands of parts imported from Europe each year. Tariff barriers would mean higher costs and higher prices and we cannot assume that the UK would be granted free trade with Europe from outside the EU.”

But now BMW is building its new Mini in Britain…

Amazon, meanwhile, is undertaking a massive expansion of its UK headquarters. The online retailing giant says it will take up the entire 15 floors of a newly constructed building near the City. The firm had planned to only occupy 11; now 450 new staff will work there. Doug Gurr of Amazon UK said:

“The U.K. is a fantastic place to find talent and we feel good about building a global R&D center here. We’re very confident we’ll be able to recruit everyone we need.”

In a staggeringly self-contradictory sentence, Bloomberg reports:

“Amazon is expanding its space in the new building, which features a roof garden and surrounded by new cafes and restaurants, amid nervousness in the property market created by uncertainty over the nature of the U.K.’s divorce from the EU.”

Three more reasons to believe in Brexit Britain…

“Sick Man of Europe” UK Outperforming Eurozone Rivals

The IMF’s downgrade of its growth forecast for the UK economy this year is being seized upon to pursue the narrative that Brexit is hurting Britain while Eurozone economies grow. One Guardian headline says the UK has become “the sick man of Europe”.[…] Read the rest

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Quote of the Day

Tory MP Nick Boles says what everyone thinks…

“There is a timidity and lack of ambition about Mrs May’s Government which means it constantly disappoints. Time to raise your game, Prime Minister.”

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