Brexit, EU & UK

Written by  //  August 14, 2018  //  Europe & EU, U.K.  //  No comments

The Guardian Brexit

The Tories have voted that animals can’t feel pain as part of the EU bill, marking the beginning of our anti-science Brexit
The Tories have already decided to scale back huge parts of what makes Britain the country we’re proud of – today it’s animal sentience, and tomorrow it could be something far worse
We are looking at a very grim future for animals, where hunting is reintroduced, labs are free to test on animals with as much cruelty as they wish (and no pain relief) and farms are less and less regulated. … what worries me most about this development is that it shows just how much potential havoc Brexit could cause. Voting the recognition of animal sentience out of UK legislation is a pretty big deal, but it’s barely been reported on in mainstream news outlets. As each EU law is put to the vote, I wonder how many more will be scrapped without being brought to the public’s attention. Why are we not being consulted about what laws are being changed? Why are we barely even being told? (November 2017)

14 August
Public backing for Final Say referendum leaps amid division over May’s Brexit plans
Exclusive: Polling for The Independent shows support for a new vote has jumped four points in the last month
The survey comes amid dwindling public support for Ms May’s Chequers deal plan for Brexit, not to mention growing discontent in her own party, with some insiders suggesting a leadership challenge is becoming likely this year.”there’s an unrefined quality to his world view, a blinkered embrace of far-left positions over the years that make him seem divorced from reality. If left-wing populists don’t jettison their hoarier positions, they risk wreaking as much havoc as their right-wing populist counterparts—if they ever win outright, of course.”
British expats in EU launch Brexit legal challenge
Group says leave campaign broke electoral law, making 2016 vote unconstitutional
Nearly 80% of the estimated 1 to 2 million Britons living overseas in EU countries are of working age or younger. Many fear Brexit will threaten their livelihoods and make it far harder to travel across the continent. … “Our clients contend that the prime minister’s decision to trigger article 50 and start the Brexit process was based on a factual error, namely that the referendum truly represented the will of the people following a lawful, free and fair vote.”

12-13 August
Follow the nuance: Labour is edging towards ditching Brexit
(The Guardian) The referendum that propelled Britain towards exit from the European Union was called because David Cameron ran out of options for holding the Tories together. It would be a neat historical symmetry if the country voted on a reversal because Jeremy Corbyn faced the same problem with Labour.
A referendum on Brexit terms is not Labour policy….  “We’ve not ruled anything out,” John McDonnell said in July. “But our preference is a general election.”
That preference flows from three calculations. First, the collision between Theresa May’s Brexit deal and parliament this autumn will be so gruesome that the prime minister will fall. Second, that her departure will somehow propel Corbyn into Downing Street. Third, that the Brexit process will as a result be magically detoxified. All peril comes from Tory rule and ends when Labour’s crack team rides into the breach. Each of those judgments are debatable; the last one is delusional.
Corbyn’s allergy to discussion of a Brexit reversal once looked tactically astute. Now it looks shifty. It compounds the impression of leadership unmoored. The row over antisemitism that has consumed Labour this summer is a mess of complex genesis on the far left, but the situation is made worse by general stagnation. The noxious miasma grows denser over a party that can’t seem to move forward on any front. It doesn’t even have anything useful to say on the biggest issue facing the country.
This Euro-stasis is the expression of deadlocked forces that do not map on to pro- or anti-Corbyn faultlines. The alliance that wants to press on with Brexit unites the “old Labour” right, who fret about immigration control, with the “old Labour” left, which hates the EU’s legal framework for competition and free markets.
The rival coalition is a fragile compound of unrepentant Blairites, who focus on the economic folly of quitting the single market, and the younger radicals in Momentum, who see Brexit opening a portal to an “alt-right” hellscape where Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg perform endless Donald Trump tributes.

Counting the cost of Brexit inaction
Obsessed by the EU, British policymakers have left big problems unaddressed.
(Politico EU) the virtual absence of significant action on any of these pressing issues by a political class mesmerized by how, when and whether to leave the EU represents an opportunity cost that, for once, deserves to be labelled massive.

12 – 13 July

The Guardian view on Donald Trump in Britain: this was the visit from hell
Theresa May should have grasped that this US president is an enemy of stability in Europe. Now she should learn from her mistake
He is not our ally. He is hostile to our interests and values. He may even, if this goes on, become a material threat. This week he deliberately inflamed the politics of Europe and of Britain. Yes, Mrs May brought it on herself, but it was hard not to feel for her as a person over the last day and half. She now needs to learn the lesson, and to lead Britain, Brexit or no Brexit, into a constructive and effective relationship with our more dependable allies, who share our values, in Europe.

Trump vows ‘great’ trade deal with UK, abruptly changing tack on May’s Brexit plan
(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he looked forward to finalizing a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain, marking an abrupt change from a newspaper interview when he said Prime Minister Theresa May’s strategy would kill such an agreement.
In an interview published just hours before the two leaders held talks, Trump chided the “very unfortunate” results of the prime minister’s proposals for Brexit and her negotiating tactics as Britain prepares to leaves the European Union in March next year.
However, Trump later said May was doing a “fantastic job”.
Why Brussels is keeping quiet on May’s White Paper
Brussels has said since the beginning of Brexit negotiations that the UK can’t pick and choose the “best parts” of EU membership and walk away from the rest when it leaves. Yet that’s exactly how the White Paper is interpreted in EU circles.
There is no way Michel Barnier [the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator] will accept it as is.
Brexit: What does the government White Paper reveal?
By Chris Morris Reality Check correspondent,
(BBC News) The new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab unveiled the White Paper on Thursday
The government has published its long-awaited Brexit White Paper. The document is 104 pages long and follows last week’s Chequers agreement which set out the sort of relationship the UK wants with the EU after Brexit.
The White Paper is split into four chapters: economic partnership, security, cooperation and institutional arrangements. Most of the debate surrounds the first section, the future economic relationship. So here are the key excerpts from the chapter on “economic partnership” and what they mean.
With May’s Government Teetering, Trump Gives It a Shove
(NYT) In the interview with The Sun, Mr. Trump second-guessed Mrs. May’s handling of the main issue on her plate: how Britain should cut ties to the European Union. He cast doubt on whether he was willing to negotiate a new trade deal between Britain and the United States, and praised Mrs. May’s Conservative Party rival, Boris Johnson, as a potentially great prime minister.

10 July
J.K. Rowling, who has been known to make her feelings about Brexit pretty clear in the past, waded in on Monday. Specifically, she wanted to address the resignations of Johnson and Davis.
“This is what happens when you have men in government who’ve been raised from birth to believe it’s someone else’s job to clean up after them. They throw tantrums when they finally make a mess no-one can fix. #Brexit “— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling)  July 9, 2018

7-10 July
Boris Johnson Has Ruined Britain
“He knows that the verdict of history is about to come down on him — and bury him.”
By Jenni Russell
(NYT Opinion) For the second time in three years, Boris Johnson, a politician whose ambition and superficial charm far outstrip his ability, judgment or principles, is destabilizing the British government and threatening the country’s future.
At the start of 2016, Mr. Johnson was perhaps the most popular politician in Britain. Supporters and fans mobbed him at train stations and traffic lights; pollsters and pundits thought he could reach the parts of the country that other Conservatives could never touch. But he was also driven and insecure, so desperate to guarantee he would be the next prime minister that he cynically abandoned his own previous positions on the European Union in order to try to secure support from his party’s Euroskeptic right wing.
David Frum: The End of the Brexit Illusion
The grand promises of withdrawal from the European Union run aground on the tedious and technical details that campaigners ignored.
Since the June 2016 referendum on a British exit from the European Union, the winners have bumped into a sequence of practical problems to which they can offer no credible solutions. As time dribbles away, the British government has backed into ever-greater concessions to the European Union point of view—without coming any closer to a finished agreement by the deadline of March 29, 2019.
This past weekend, May convened a meeting at her country home, Chequers, to propose to her cabinet a draft basis for negotiations with the European Union. The plan proposed what has been known as “soft Brexit”: Britain would seek to exit the Union—and end the free movement of people from the EU into Britain—while effectively remaining within the EU Customs Union. It’s not at all certain that such an outcome could be reached
British foreign secretary quits in protest over May’s Brexit plan
(Reuters) – Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson quit on Monday over Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to leave the European Union, the second resignation in a day leaving the British leader’s Brexit plans all but in tatters.
May’s plan ‘sticks in the throat’, says Boris Johnson as he resigns over Brexit
Senior Conservative becomes third minister to walk out over ‘common rulebook’ proposal
(The Guardian) Boris Johnson has quit as foreign secretary, claiming in his resignation letter that the UK was headed “for the status of a colony” if Theresa May’s soft Brexit plans were adopted.
The leading Brexiter said that he tried to support the line agreed at Chequers on Friday but while the “government now has a song to sing” he could not manage to support the plan agreed.
David Davis steps down as Brexit secretary in blow to PM
David Davis, the UK’s Brexit secretary, has resigned from the cabinet following Friday’s summit at Chequers.
In his resignation letter he blamed the “dilution” of what he said was a firm Chequers agreement, delays to the White Paper, and omissions from the “backstop” customs proposal that would leave the UK in a “weak negotiating position” at best. He says his role requires an “enthusiastic believer” in May’s approach rather than a “reluctant conscript”.
He was followed by deputy, Steve Baker, and another Brexit minister Suella Braverman.
Brexit betrayed or the end of May: What does David Davis’s resignation mean?
(Reuters) May’s survival will depend on keeping other senior cabinet ministers in the government. All eyes are on Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is due to speak at a diplomatic conference later on Monday, and Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
At-a-glance: The new UK Brexit plan agreed at Chequers
(BBC) These proposals represent “a precise and responsible approach to the final stage of the negotiations”, the government says.
According to the government the plan:
Gives the UK an independent trade policy, with the ability to set its own non-EU tariffs and to reach separate trade deals
Ends the role of the ECJ in UK affairs
Ends annual payments to the EU budget with “appropriate contributions for joint action in specific areas”
The early reaction from Brexiteers has been that they need to see the full 100-plus page plan to see whether or not they agree with the government’s claims.
Full details will be released in a white paper next week.
This is not a final Brexit deal. This is an agreement on the UK’s preferred way forward as negotiations with the European Union about the future relationship reach a crucial stage.

2 July
UK’s latest Brexit proposal is unrealistic, say EU officials
EU sources who have seen drafts of white paper say proposals would never be accepted
(The Guardian) The prime minister is gathering her squabbling ministers at Chequers on Friday for a one-day discussion to thrash out the UK’s future relationship with the EU. But EU sources who have seen drafts of the long-awaited British white paper said the proposals would never be accepted.
“We read the white paper and we read ‘cake’,” an EU official told the Guardian, a reference to Boris Johnson’s one-liner of being “pro having [cake] and pro-eating it”. Since the British EU referendum, “cake” has entered the Brussels lexicon to describe anything seen as an unrealistic or far-fetched demand.

30 June
Jonathan Chait: The Other Russia Collusion Scandal Is Breaking Wide Open
(New York) In 2016, Vladimir Putin reaped two of his greatest foreign policy triumphs in quick succession. The United Kingdom voted narrowly to exit the European Union, advancing a longstanding Russian goal of splitting Western allies that have long been united against it. Later that year, the United States voted even more narrowly to elect Donald Trump president.
Friday evening, the New York Times revealed new detail about Russian involvement in the Brexit vote. The more we learn, the more similar the pattern of behavior in the two countries becomes clear, and the more suspicious the denials of Putin’s partners grows.
In both countries, the right-wing pro-Russian populists indignantly insist there is no more incriminating information to be found beyond what was known at any given moment, even as the bounds of what is known at any moment continues to expand.
Brexit’s biggest campaign donor ‘investigated by National Crime Agency over links to Russia’
Emails reportedly show Arron Banks was offered three Russian business deals
(The Independent) The emails reportedly show Mr Banks was offered three Russian business deals in the buildup to the Brexit vote, including a gold mine in west Africa and a stake in Russia’s state-owned diamond mining organisation Alrosa.
In the US, Democrats in Congress recently obtained a trove of Mr Banks’s communications and are exploring whether he, Nigel Farage and other senior members of Leave.EU served as a bridge between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

16 June
Arron Banks, Brexit and the Russia connection
(The Guardian) The foreign secretary of Britain had made critical remarks about a hostile foreign power. And, so these documents appear to suggest, prompted the Leave.EU team to swing into action in support of the hostile foreign power. And, astonishingly, to write a personal note of support to the country’s ambassador.

14 June
(The Economist) In Britain we try to make sense of yet another week of Brexit chaos. Amid the resignations, rebellions and recriminations, a simple truth is beginning to emerge. A “hard” Brexit—free of the clutches of European judges, trade policy and migration rules—has long looked inevitable. No longer. Parliamentary arithmetic and the need to keep an open border in Ireland are leading inexorably to a softer deal, in which Britain stays close to Europe.

10 June
Top Brexit Backer Passed Trump Transition Team Info to Russians
(New York) Concerns about Russia’s election meddling — in the U.K. — reached new heights on Saturday after leaked emails revealed extensive links between one of the top backers of a pro-Brexit campaign and Russian officials. The Observer and Sunday Times of London obtained the some 40,000 emails sent by millionaire businessman Arron Banks, the chief financial backer of U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage’s Leave.EU campaign, and Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s director of communications.
The emails show show that Banks had previously undisclosed meetings with Russia’s U.K. ambassador (which were set up by an alleged Russian spy), and had made a previously undisclosed visit to Moscow at the peak of the Brexit campaign.

29 May
Soros-backed campaign to push for new Brexit vote within a year
Billionaire says holding fresh referendum soon could save UK from ‘immense damage’
(The Guardian) A campaign to secure a second Brexit referendum within a year and save the UK from “immense damage” is to be launched in days, the philanthropist and financier George Soros has announced.
The billionaire founder of the Open Society Foundation said the prospect of the UK’s prolonged divorce from Brussels could help persuade the British public by a “convincing margin” that EU membership was in their interests.
In a speech on Tuesday ahead of the launch of the Best for Britain campaign – said to have already attracted millions of pounds in donations – Soros suggested to an audience in Paris that changing the minds of Britons would be in keeping with “revolutionary times”.
Best for Britain had already helped to convince parliamentarians to extract from Theresa May a meaningful vote on the final withdrawal deal, he said, and it was time to engage with voters, and Brussels, to pave the way for the UK to stay in the bloc. It is expected to publish its campaign manifesto on 8 June.
George Soros: How to Save Europe
(Project Syndicate) … territorial disintegration, exemplified by Brexit … is an immensely damaging process, harmful to both sides. But a lose-lose proposition could be converted into a win-win situation.
Divorce will be a long process, probably taking more than five years – a seeming eternity in politics, especially in revolutionary times like the present. Ultimately, it is up to the British people to decide what they want to do, but it would be better if they came to a decision sooner rather than later. That is the goal of an initiative called Best for Britain, which I support. This initiative fought for, and helped to win, a meaningful parliamentary vote on a measure that includes the option of not leaving before Brexit is finalized.
Britain would render Europe a great service by rescinding Brexit and not creating a hard-to-fill hole in the European budget. But its citizens must express support by a convincing margin in order to be taken seriously by Europe. That is Best for Britain’s aim in engaging the electorate.
The economic case for remaining an EU member is strong, but it has become clear only in the last few months, and it will take time to sink in. During that time, the EU needs to transform itself into an organization that countries like Britain would want to join, in order to strengthen the political case.

30 April
Brexit: Government defeat in Lords over terms of meaningful vote
(BBC) Peers have defeated the government in voting to give Parliament a potentially decisive say over Brexit.
An amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill giving MPs the power to stop the UK from leaving without a deal, or to make Theresa May return to negotiations, was approved by 335 votes to 244.
Its supporters said Parliament, not ministers, must “determine the future of the country”.
The government will now try to persuade MPs to strike out the change.
Analysis by the BBC’s Alex Forsyth
So far, the government has framed Parliament’s vote on a final Brexit deal as a stark choice; take it or leave it.
The implication – if MPs reject whatever terms are negotiated – the UK would leave the EU without a deal on future relations.
But this amendment agreed by the House of Lords could prevent that, by giving Parliament the power to decide what happens if MPs turn down the final agreement.
The result will embolden those pushing for a greater role for Parliament in the process.

7 March
May’s Brexit red lines will damage UK economy, EU trade guidelines say
Document on bloc’s vision of future relationship says PM’s red lines mean Brussels is limited in what it can offer
The EU is offering a free-trade deal that will be economically damaging to the UK and has ruled out a series of demands made by Theresa May, a document on the bloc’s vision of the future relationship reveals.
The prime minister’s red lines limit what Brussels can offer the UK, the paper says, and in return for even a limited free-trade agreement the British government will have to sign up to a commitment not to become a low-tax, low-regulation state undercutting the EU model.

15 January
EU leaders say UK can reverse Brexit decision if it wants to
Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker say door to EU remains open if Britain changes its mind on Brexit
(The Guardian) The door remains open to the European Union if the UK wants to change its mind on Brexit, the most senior leaders of the EU institutions have said.
In a speech to MEPs, Donald Tusk, the head of the European council, suggested reversing Brexit was still a possibility in his mind. “If the UK government sticks to its decision to leave, Brexit will become a reality – with all its negative consequences – in March next year. Unless there is a change of heart among our British friends.”
Tusk recalled the words of the UK Brexit secretary, David Davis, who said in 2013 that “if a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy”. Quoting these remarks, Tusk said: “We, here on the continent, haven’t had a change of heart. Our hearts are still open to you.”

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