Land of Cheaper Wine and Honey Under No Deal

The government has today confirmed that all tariffs will be scrapped on wine and honey – along with 88% of goods imported to the UK – in the event of no deal. Get ready to pop the champagne…

This tariff arrangement would last for a year while a new permanent regime is being worked out and full Free Trade Agreements around the world are struck – and cut tariffs even further than Theresa May’s government planned, ensuring preferential access to the UK market for developing countries.

The Government is pitching this new regime as “a balanced approach”, as whilst the majority of goods will see their tariffs fall to zero, some tariffs will continue, including on bioethanol, fish, some meats, ceramics, cars, and clothing. In any case, No Deal will (temporarily) lead to a land of considerably cheaper milk and honey…

FCO “Crisis No Deal Response”: Go On Holiday

Yesterday’s story about the penny dropping at the FCO that Brexit was really going to happen on October 31 triggered the FCO press office into claiming that they had, of course, been training people on trade policy since 2016.  Unfortunately for the junior press office spinner trying to sell the line that this was just an expansion, Guido’s FCO sources suggest otherwise…

It’s all getting a bit hairy over at the FCO, departments are now being told that more and more staff will have to be deployed – unexpectedly – for Brexit related duties. Many unhappy senior staff are having to decide what they will have to stop doing to compensate for redeployed staff and resources…

Simon McDonald, the FCO’s Permanent-Under-Secretary, has written to staff telling them; “Preparing for a no deal response will become the FCO’s main effort… our EU exit work has to intensify across the FCO.” He goes on to tell them that the FCO Crisis Centre will be coordinating the effort – which tells you all need to know about the FCO’s attitude towards Brexit. Peter Jones, the FCO’s Chief Operating Officer, is coordinating the change in priorities with directors. As if it should not have been the priority since June 2016…

McDonald concludes “Preparing for October is the professional challenge of our lives” before going on to finish his missive “I hope, like me, you manage to take some leave over the summer in preparation for a busy autumn.” No sense of urgency even though a no deal Brexit has belatedly “become the FCO’s main effort”…

Hypocritical Hammond: I Prepared For No Deal But Boris Mustn’t Be Allowed To

Former Chancellor and perennial Brexit Eeyore Philip Hammond has taken to the airwaves today to warn of the supposedly dire consequences of a clean break from the EU. This is despite him being elected on a manifesto that promised the UK would leave with No Deal if the only alternative was a bad deal. Which, currently, it is.

On Today this morning, Hammond bizarrely doubled down on the notion that he had spent time and money preparing for No Deal, despite the reason for his interview being a big intervention saying such preparation would be damaging and undemocratic. It’s okay when he does it but when it’s Michael Gove and Boris Johnson that’s beyond the pale…

“We were already doing No Deal preparation… we spent £4.2 billion… a large part of it was preparation by the treasury to mitigate the impact on financial services.”

So why does he have a problem with this Government doing the same thing he supposedly did..?

Guido suspects that the reason for the disparity is that Hammond’s ‘preparation’ was purely cosmetic. Last week it was reported that a No Deal planning committee member had revealed that previously “the Treasury was blocking everythingwhereas things are serious now and ten to 15 actions are agreed every day.” Hammond is only upset that now people are actually undertaking the work that he bragged about doing while actually undermining it…

Downing Street sources have hit back hard saying the likes of the former Chancellor “never accepted the referendum result and they fought to overturn it.” Number 10 sources tells the FT that “Hammond and Clarke sabotaged the UK’s preparations to leave. Every day, officials tell us about decisions they took to stop us actually leaving” and The Times that “Everyone knows the ex-chancellor’s real objective was to cancel the referendum result.”

Hammond himself is doing nothing to dampen that analysis, talking up a second referendum again this morning.

“If we can’t resolve this issue in Parliament it will have to be resolved by either a General Election or a second referendum.”

If anyone believes he actually respects the referendum result, Guido has a bridge to sell you…

UPDATE: Guido asked team Hammond if there was any truth to the widely circulating story that the then Chancellor told the Irish that the British Government would never support No Deal during the negotiations that followed the defeat of the first meaningful vote last year. They refused to comment on it…

Calais Ports Chief: No Deal Scaremongering is ‘La Bulls**t’

Senior French official Jean-Marc Puissesseau has dismissed fears of transport chaos around the Dover-Calais crossing as “C’est la bulls**t”, saying: “Nothing is going to happen the day after Brexit… Britain will be a third country, that’s all, and there is no reason why this should lead to any problems. If both sides do their homework traffic will be completely fluid”. He should know, he’s only the head of the French channel ports…

He adds that while no deal would have been a problem in March “because nobody believed it was going to happen and they were all dragging their feet”, now everyone has an extra seven months is actually getting ready. Including the UK Government, this time…

Puissesseau accuses “certain individuals in the UK” of “whipping up this catastrophism for their own reasons”. Who could possibly want to do that…

CBI Dancing to Boris’s No Deal Tune

Boris’s strategy of doing the opposite of what his opponents expect – and actually being serious about leaving the EU deal or no deal – is continuing to yield results. Now it’s Eurosceptics’ longtime adversary the CBI who have been forced to come round. Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn took to The Times to set out their new “pragmatic” approach to no deal:

“Our view has not changed. Business wants a deal. But we are also pragmatists. We have been preparing our members for the possibility of no deal for many months. Now is the time to shift to an emergency footing… And, contrary to some claims, the EU is behind the UK in its plans to prevent the worst effects…

“The CBI has set out more than 200 recommendations for action. For the government, it shows that good work has been carried out in prioritising short-term stability and temporary measures, such as its approach to licences for regulated EU goods imports…

“For the EU, it means at least matching the UK’s sensible temporary mitigations in a range of areas. They must look at further potential temporary standstills and extensions of emergency measures, especially around borders and data flows. They should also bring forward the ability for UK firms to apply for essential licences as a third country before the UK leaves…

“Two stark messages stand out. The first is to get on with the work. The second is to get back to the negotiating table so that this wasteful and complex process becomes redundant. The EU’s preparations lag the UK’s so it’s in their interest as much as ours to use the dynamic of a new prime minister to reset the approach.”

The Times’ write-up even included the phrasing “the CBI is pressing Brussels to drop its boycott of talks”. Who’d have thought we’d see the day when the UK’s ‘biggest’ business lobby group finally decided to put the pressure on Brussels rather than Downing Street – as it has for the last three years? When the PM actually leads, others follow…

Barnier: May Never Threatened No Deal

Michel Barnier told Nick Robinson for a BBC Panorama special airing tonight that Theresa May “never” threatened to walk away without a deal. He said that the EU wouldn’t be “impressed by such a threat” and that it’s “not useful to use it”. It seems obvious that if Theresa May hadn’t just set out to “impress” the EU side or be “useful” to them, a tougher UK stance would have secured a better deal…

Amber Rudd: Gizza Job Bozza

Big shift from outspoken Remainer and Hunt supporter Amber Rudd who told TalkRADIO this morning she accepted that No Deal is “part of the armoury” in trying to get a better deal with the EU. Rudd still insists to JHB that a deal would be “so much better” but it’s a far cry from when she was adamant no deal would be a “disaster”.

Surely nothing to do with the fact that Boris has said that his cabinet will all have to be on board with his policy to leave the EU by 31st October, deal or no deal. It seems as Nick Boles says: “So she will let Boris Johnson drive her home after all – so long as it’s in a ministerial limo…”

BBC’s Barnett Says No Deal is “Willy Waving”

Guido likes Emma Barnett’s pugnacious neo-Paxonian interviewing style. She seems to dish it out to all sides and manages to keep her personal politics off broadcast. Not off Twitter though…

So a gentle reminder to a BBC journalist opposing the stated policy of both candidates to be the next Prime Minister. The BBC social media guidelines clearly state “We must not endorse or appear to endorse any other organisation, its products, activities, services, views or opinions… The personal use of the internet by BBC staff must be tempered by an awareness of the potential conflicts that may arise… editorial staff should not indicate their political allegiance.” Guido is unsurprised that a BBC hack is not keen on exiting the EU on no deal terms, just a little surprised they are tweeting their view…

Labour MP: Outside London The Country Wants No Deal

Anti No Deal centrist Labour MP Ruth Smeeth conceded last night on the BBC’s Westminster Hour that her postbag was “75%” filled with pro-No Deal letters. She still opposes the policy but recognises the strength of feeling outside of London, saying the general public “just desperately want” to deliver Brexit. With Labour’s current policy trajectory, seats like hers will be almost certain to be lost to a more pro-Brexit Tory party…

Ken Clarke: I’ll No Confidence a No Deal Government

Ken Clarke told the World At One this afternoon that he would be prepared to back a no confidence vote if the UK was heading for No Deal, even if it was proposed by Labour. The former Chancellor says he could not countenance No Deal because he is pro-business, so has decided he would vote in a way that could usher in Britain’s first Marxist government. Impeccable logic…

“It might trigger an election, it might trigger a change in Government without an election… I am not going to vote in favour of a Government that says it is going to pursue policies that are totally incompatible with everything the Conservative Party has stood for.”

Labour are already pencilling in a possible no confidence vote for Thursday 25th July, one day after the new PM takes office. Now Chris Davies has been recalled by his constituents the Conservatives command a Commons majority of four with DUP help. After the Brecon and Radnoshire by-election this is likely to fall to just three…

Extension: Tusk Wants ‘Flextension’, May Wants Until June 30

European Council President Donald Tusk is reportedly to propose EU leaders agree to offer the UK a year-long “flexible” extension to Article 50 beyond 12 April to 31 March 2020 with the option of leaving the EU earlier if the UK parliament ratifies the EU Withdrawal Agreement. Which means European Elections and the inevitable return of Nigel Farage to Brussels…

May has written to Tusk pleading for an extension until June 30, just before MEPs return to the European Parliament. This is legally challengeable… so in all likelihood it is really an invitation to the EU to impose a flextension. Shamefully weak.

UPDATE: Here’s the letter in full:

Mogg Explains Why May’s Deal is Better than Remain

“Is this deal worse than not leaving? No. Definitely not.”

Mogg explained to ConservativeHome’s Mark Wallace that having a treaty obligation to the European Union is not a good position, but a much better one than membership of the European Union. Instead of EU law being superior to UK law, as with membership, under May’s deal the UK would be subject to international law rather than European law. It’s hard to disagree that May’s deal, bad as it is, isn’t a step in the right direction…

Brexit Can Be Stopped, No Deal Brexit is Unlikely, So Take the Certain Choice

Eurosceptic MPs have had a lot of thinking to do over the weekend. Do they hold their nose and vote for May’s less-than-perfect deal, or do they roll the dice again and run the risk of losing Brexit altogether? Some Brexiteers believe if they just sit tight Britain will automatically leave the EU next week. ERG supremo Chris Howarth – a hero of the long fight for Brexit – argues that it’s a “certainty” that so long as the ERG MPs hold their nerve that the UK is “leaving the EU on 29th March without a permanent backstop.” Guido would love that to be true, it is however a triumph of optimism over reality. Before MPs make their mind up, they need to face up to the political reality of where we are…

Let’s look at Howarth’s arguments in turn, because they are at the heart of the divide among Brexiteer allies:

  • There isn’t enough time to stop us leaving on 29th March.
  • The Commons won’t back a second referendum
  • The PM’s deal will never pass
  • The PM won’t want to seek a long extension if her deal is rejected a third time

Howarth argues these are certainties, Guido disputes that:-

Continue reading

What Theresa May Used to Say About No Deal

Theresa May is set to vote in favour of her anti-No Deal motion tonight, directly contradicting her repeated (and popular) position she has claimed to hold for over two years. Guido has dug up this video of the Prime Minister setting out her stall during the 2017 Election, making it clear that “we have to be prepared to walk out”…

May’s excuse for seemingly going back on that promise up until now has been that, unlike most people, she believes her deal is a Good Deal.[…] Read the rest


No Deal Plans Shoot Down Scaremongering

This morning the UK announced the temporary unilateral measures the UK will apply in the event that the UK leaves the EU with No Deal on 29 March. These come as MPs will be voting on whether or not to reject keeping No Deal on the table this evening…

Despite the original plan to have been to zero rate all the EU’s tariffs, intense special interest lobbying has apparently rolled that back.[…] Read the rest


German Economists: No Deal Will Hit Ireland Three Times Harder than UK

Germany’s prestigious IFO Institut has crunched the numbers on the economic impact of no deal on 44 countries and predicted that Ireland would be hit three times harder than the UK by a no-deal Brexit, taking a massive 8.16% hit to their economy.[…] Read the rest


Brexit-Bottling MPs Skewered on Politics Live

Education Secretary Damian Hinds and Labour MP Emma Reynolds and were skewered this afternoon on Politics Live by CityAM’s Christian May over their support (tacit or otherwise) for Yvette Cooper’s anti-no deal amendment.[…] Read the rest


ICM: No Deal Most Popular Brexit Option

A new ICM Poll alarmed the Guardian last night, with No Deal being the public’s leading option as to what should happen next. It’s also the legal default as long as Parliamentary deadlock continues…

  • No Deal: 28%
  • Referendum: 24%
  • General Election: 11%
  • Withdrawal Agreement: 8%

Whilst a cleaner Brexit is comfortably popular among the public, according to  Election Maps UK, just 116 MPs support it.[…] Read the rest


Grieve’s Minority Coup D’etat

Alex Wickham has scooped the Sundays by getting hold of Grieve’s Proposed Amendment to let a minority take control of the parliamentary legislative agenda:


As an Amendment to the Motion tabled for the purposes of section 13(6) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2017
Leave out from “House” to end and insert “believes that [INSERT DECLARATORY WORDS RELATING TO NEED TO PREVENT NO DEAL BREXIT), and orders accordingly that — (1) On [DATE OF SUBSEQUENT SITTING DAY TO BE INSERTED] —

(a) Standing Order No.

[…] Read the rest


NHS Boss: No Medicine Shortages in Event of No Deal

Head of NHS England Simon Stevens has told Today that the NHS is on course to be fully prepared for a no deal exit from the European Union, confirming that, despite the scare stories, there will be no medicine shortages in the event of no deal:

“If everyone does what they are being asked to do, particularly around the transport and logistics infrastructure, then yes that will be the case.”

This confirms Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s announcement over the weekend that he is “confident that we’ll have the unhindered supply of medicines so long as the plans that we have in place are properly enacted.” 

Stevens also took aim at some of the scare stories around post-Brexit staffing shortages, confirming that more non-EU migrants work in the NHS than EU migrants at the moment, and that after we have left the EU “there is no reason why we can’t get this right.” Maybe unrelenting Remainers should listen to the experts…[…] Read the rest


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