Potty-mouthed Neil Coyle tries and fails to sneak one past Mr Speaker…
Timetable here. An historic moment…
UPDATE: Brexit Secretary David Davis:
“The British people have made the decision to leave the EU and this government is determined to get on with the job of delivering it. So today we have introduced a Bill in Parliament which will allow us to formally trigger Article 50 by the end of March. I trust that Parliament, which backed the referendum by six to one, will respect the decision taken by the British people and pass the legislation quickly.”
Labour have selected an ardent Remainer who backed Turkey joining the EU as their candidate in the Stoke-on-Trent by-election. Gareth Snell, a councillor who used to work in Tristram Hunt’s office, was the most vocal Remainer on the final shortlist. He has tweeted dozens of times about his opposition to Brexit, calling it a “massive pile of sh*t” and tweeting in support of Turkish membership of the EU. That sound you can hear is Paul Nuttall celebrating…
Before the referendum Downing Street coordinated a letter from 12 former military chiefs to the Telegraph claiming that remaining in the EU was “in our national interest”. It quickly fell apart when it emerged one of the generals hadn’t actually signed it and another had decided to back Leave. The letter argued:
“Will Britain be safer inside the EU or outside it? When we look at the world today, there seems to us only one answer. Within the EU, we are stronger… In a dangerous world, it helps us to safeguard our people, our prosperity and our way of life. We therefore believe strongly that it is in our national interest to remain an EU member.”
11 months later, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defence, Stephen Lovegrove says the EU is operationally irrelevant to Britain’s security. This is an extract from Lovegrove’s interview with the new issue of Civil Service World:
EU membership is operationally irrelevant to the multinational and binational arrangements through which the UK currently insures itself, Lovegrove stresses. And, to demonstrate the primacy of NATO over the EU in the UK’s military relationships, he points to a map showing the flag configurations of recent NATO deployments in Poland and the Baltic states. “These are obviously all European countries, but you will see that of the four lead nations, two of them – Canada and the USA – are not European nations. And, before too long, three of them won’t be.”
Lovegrove adds that there is little administrative burden on the MoD caused by Brexit and that few defence policies are “directly affected”. Almost as if the last government got the whole establishment to put their names to a load of Project Fear nonsense…
The latest attempt to frustrate Brexit comes in the form of Tory MPs seeking a white paper so there can be “greater debate” in the Commons, a demand being made by Remainers Anna Soubry, Alistair Burt and Nicky Morgan. Worth looking at how their constituencies voted (numbers from Chris Hanretty). Soubry’s Broxtowe voted 52% to Leave. Burt’s North East Bedfordshire voted 53% to Leave. Morgan’s Loughborough local authority also voted to Leave, though her seat estimate is bang down the middle 50-50. There have already been murmurings of disquiet among Broxtowe Tories upset with Soubry’s decision to defy her constituents, while in Loughborough the Tory association deputy chair has said of NiMo “I’ve no idea what she’s playing at”. That local unrest is only going to get worse…
Some more excitable Brexiteers are claiming that the Supreme Court decision means the public has been “overruled” and that Article 50 “could now be blocked”. This is bluster. Leave Tories in the Commons who Guido has spoken to today expect to secure the votes of over 400 MPs to trigger Article 50. They envisage around 80 Labour MPs voting against or abstaining, the SNP voting against and a handful of Tory abstentions. In other words, a large majority to trigger. The government rates its chances of winning the Article 50 vote at “100%”. As you can see on Guido’s spreadsheet, there are currently only 80 or so MPs actually planning to vote against. Brexit is not under threat from this morning’s decision.
Labour have selected an arch-Remainer as their candidate in the Leave stronghold of Copeland. Gillian Troughton, who beat the Corbynista contender Rachel Holliday last night, campaigned strongly to Remain in the EU and publicly supports Gina Miller’s attempt to frustrate Article 50 through the courts. She has promoted social media posts calling for the referendum result to be “declared void”. The day after the referendum she wrote on Facebook that “Our children’s futures have been needlessly gambled and lost”.
Copeland voted 62% to Leave…
Corbyn said last night: “I am delighted that Gillian Troughton will be Labour’s candidate”. The feeling is not reciprocated. Troughton strongly supported Owen Smith in the Labour leadership election, writing in Facebook messages to friends that Smith was “easily the best candidate”, promoting tweets saying “it’s political madness to vote for Corbyn” and tweeting articles titled: “Corbyn’s past will destroy Labour’s future” and “Jeremy Corbyn literally makes no sense”. Bet he’s delighted indeed…
The EU’s Common External Tariff comprises 12,651 different taxes and quotas imposed on goods from the rest of the world. This is what the Customs Union amounts to, a protectionist barrier to free trade with the 162 countries outside the EU. Don’t fall for the hype that it reduces trade barriers.
Garlic has a 200% external tariff to protect French farmers, tariffs double the price of sugar cane imported by Tate & Lyle from outside Europe. The policy was designed by the EU to boost beet sugar producers in 19 EU countries – at the expense of companies like Tate & Lyle who use cane sugar instead. Some US jeans face a 26% tariff, shoes face 17% tariffs to protect Italian cobblers. Some agricultural products, e.g. beef and dairy, have very substantial tariff rates, 54 dairy products alone have tariff rates of more than 75%. Just a few examples out of thousands showing how British consumers’ best interests are sacrificed to protect European producers from global competition…
Regional deals tend to divert trade rather than create it. Although they do lower some barriers, most do nothing to tackle the highest tariffs and each deal tends to enshrine the preferences of its largest members, making it harder to bring regional blocks together within a cohesive set of globally liberalised rules. The EU’s Customs Union only liberalises internal trade within the EU. Free trade will allow us to import raw materials from outside the EU at lower cost and without the tariffs designed to prop up inefficient European industries and high cost agriculture. The single market is really an internal market for 10% of the world’s population, the global market is a much bigger opportunity to be seized…
Speaking on the Today programme, David Davis said he expects a free trade deal with Europe to be agreed in two years though warns the transitional period could take longer. How long?
DD: “At the end of two years we will have our deal. What may take longer is implementation… It won’t be a long time. It’ll be practical.”
JH: “What are we talking? A year? Five years?”
DD: “A year or two. The thing you’ve got to understand is those interim arrangements will be determined by what the final outcome will be. If the final outcome is very like where we are now, they won’t be very long. If they’re very different, they’ll be longer.”
JH: “So it could be five years?”
DD: “I doubt it.“
Having lost the battle on the single market, the continuity Remain campaign will switch to trying to delay Brexit. Paul Nuttall said yesterday that the transition must be over by the 2020 election, Michael Gove has said it must take months rather than years, Gisela Stuart and Change Britain have said it must be swift and time limited. Now the phoney war on the single market and customs union is over, this is a key Brexit battleground…
The main points from Theresa May’s speech. Brexit means…
- OUT of the single market: “I want to be clear, what I am proposing cannot mean membership of the single market”
- OUT of the customs union in its current form: UK will either seek a new customs agreement or become an “associate member” of the customs union. UK must be able to seek new trade deals with the wider world.
- End to contributions to EU budget: Gave herself leeway on making “an appropriate contribution” to parts of the EU budget, though made clear “the days of making vast contributions will end”.
- Transition: There will be a “phased process of implementation” to “avoid a disruptive cliff edge”. No word on time limit.
- Threat to EU: Makes clear she will walk away if Brussels seeks a punitive settlement: “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal”. Repeats Hammond’s threat to make Britain the tax haven of Europe: “We would have the freedom to set competitive tax rates.”
Brexiters will be happy with that. Key battlegrounds now are what the new customs deal looks like and how long this “phased process of implementation” will take. Brexit really does mean Brexit…
Full text here.
Philip Hammond informs parliament of the government’s announcement on the single market before Theresa May’s speech, telling Tory MP William Wragg at Treasury questions: “we will go forward understanding we cannot be members of the Single Market because of the political red lines around the four freedoms”. There it is at last.
And May confirms 15 minutes after it was announced to parliament:
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) January 17, 2017
Yesterday Guido reported on how arch-Europhile Sion Simon was impersonating a Brexiteer to win votes in the West Midlands mayoral election. Sion has been busy deleting pages from his website so he can keep up the charade. A statement he published back in June explaining his support for Remain has mysteriously vanished.
Unfortunately Sion is not a ‘proppa blogger‘ so he doesn’t realise that nothing ever really disappears from the internet:
“Until June 23rd I will be focussing on the campaign for the UK to remain in the European Union.”
Can’t think why Simon, an MEP on a fat Brussels salary remember, would campaign to Remain. Nor why he suddenly wants to pretend he didn’t…
Since everyone else has broken the midnight embargo, here are the pre-briefed quotes from Theresa May’s speech. Nothing really new, though we’re finally, slowly, nearly getting there on the single market and customs union.
“A little over six months ago the British people voted for change. They voted to shape a brighter future for our country. They voted to leave the European Union and embrace the world. And they did so with their eyes open: accepting that the road ahead will be uncertain at times, but believing that it leads towards a brighter future for their children – and their grandchildren too.
And it is the job of this Government to deliver it. That means more than negotiating our new relationship with the EU. It means taking the opportunity of this great moment of national change to step back and ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be.
My answer is clear. I want this United Kingdom to emerge from this period of change stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than ever before. I want us to be a secure, prosperous, tolerant country – a magnet for international talent and a home to the pioneers and innovators who will shape the world ahead.
I want us to be a truly Global Britain – the best friend and neighbour to our European partners, but a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe too. A country that gets out into the world to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike. I want Britain to be what we have the potential and ambition to be: a great, global trading nation that is respected around the world and strong, confident and united at home.
Our vote to leave the European Union was no rejection of the values we share. The decision to leave the EU represents no desire to become more distant to you, our friends and neighbours.
We will continue to be reliable partners, willing allies and close friends. We want to buy your goods, sell you ours, trade with you as freely as possible, and work with one another to make sure we are all safer, more secure and more prosperous through continued friendship.
We seek a new and equal partnership – between an independent, self-governing, Global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU. Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out. We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave.
The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. My job is to get the right deal for Britain as we do. We have 12 objectives that amount to one big goal: a new, positive and constructive partnership between Britain and the European Union. And as we negotiate that partnership, we will be driven by some simple principles: we will provide as much certainty and clarity as we can at every stage. And we will take this opportunity to make Britain stronger, to make Britain fairer, and to build a more Global Britain too.”
The death knell for “soft Brexit”…
Judging by the campaign material above, you’d think Labour’s candidate for West Midlands mayor is a Brexit backer who wants to stick it to the Westminster elite. Vote Leave slogan? Tick. England flag? Tick. Platitude about how “Politicians in London have learnt nothing”? Tick. Laughable really, since Sion Simon is still a Member of the European Parliament, backed Remain in the referendum and has been a career Westminster Europhile. His first job was working as an adviser to the Shadow Europe minister, he then ran the Europe desk at Labour HQ, then worked at the Labour press office, then as a political journalist, then as “Alastair Campbell’s shorthand typist”, then as a Labour MP with two ministerial jobs under Gordon Brown, before going to Brussels and taking a fat MEP’s salary. The West Midlands voted overwhelmingly to Leave. “Take back control” indeed…
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…
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…
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.[…] Read the rest