LEADING THE WAY OUT OF THE EU

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Friday 21 July

Environment Secretary and staunch Brexiteer Michael Gove has pointed the way to a more rational farm subsidy system after Brexit, warning wealthy landowners that there will be a “green Brexit” and that subsidies in the future “must be earned”. The government plans to maintain the value of our present subsidy system, but Gove is set to lay out a re-balancing of the system in a speech later today where he will demand that farmers do more to protect the environment and improve rural life. He will lay out “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform how we care for our land, our rivers and our seas, how we recast our ambition for our country’s environment, and the planet”.

Meanwhile Labour’s mathematically illiterate Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott made a stunning comeback yesterday after dropping out of sight during the general election for unspecified “health” reasons. She was quizzed about Labour plans to pay for 10,000 new cops and once against struggled to provide answers. Embarrassing.



Thursday 20 July

David Davis is set to meet today with chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier to outline the progress made over the last four days of Brexit talks. Davis sparked controversy at the beginning of the week when the pro-EU media portrayed a short visit to Brussels as a premature walkout, but it appears the two sides are making progress on a deal over reciprocal citizens’ rights while the UK hardens its stance on the so-called divorce bill and commits to a line-by-line analysis of European demands.

Meanwhile, the BBC continues to deal with the fallout of shocking pay revelations yesterday by threatening to cut the salaries of major male stars to deal with a supposed gender pay gap at the publicly funded broadcaster. Eyebrows were raised at the huge discrepancy between top pay for male star Chris Evans, at £2.2m a year, and the female top-earner Claudia Winkleman who is paid just under half a million. The BBC appear to be running with the gender pay controversy in order to avoid discussing wider issues about the justice of the television licence fee and the massive sums spent on television stars more broadly as BBC radio star Jeremy Vine, raking in just below three-quarters of a million a year, was confronted on air by an ex-miner about his ridiculous salary.

Yesterday, it was revealed that the EU has opened trade discussions with the UK after insisting it would only be negotiated in the latter stages of the Article 50 period. Today, it was announced that yet another off-limits activity is in fact entirely permissible: UK trade negotiations with non-EU economies, the ones where all the growth is to be found.

On Monday and Tuesday of next week British officials will meet with American counterparts to lay down the ”groundwork for commercial continuity for U.S. and UK businesses as the UK leaves the EU and exploring possible ways to strengthen trade and commercial ties, consistent with the EU’s common commercial policy,” said a US diplomat to news agency Reuters.

British and American delegations will take tentative steps to setting up working groups to sketch out the parameters of a future trade deal. This process will fall short of a cast iron agreement, but it is a significant step nonetheless. Just ask the EU, Brussels apparatchiks have been jumping for joy after reaching this stage with Japan two weeks ago. As usual, the EU fanfare is exaggerated, but there’s no denying Britain can get a long way to finalising commercial deals with economic partners the world over before Article 50 expires. The US is just the beginning.



Wednesday 19 July

The scandal of BBC pay will dominate the news today as hard-pressed licence fee payers discover they’ve been forking out hand over fist for the fat salaries of liberal luvvies like Gary Lineker. The former football star is on £1.75m a year while One Show host Chris Evans rakes in £2.2m.

It comes as British taxpayers get another slap in the face from the Department for International Development, who have been handing out foreign aid money to other Whitehall departments in a bid to hit the government’s arbitrary 0.7% foreign aid budget. It has now emerged that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is set to waste £30m on a range of so-called Middle Eastern cultural projects which include works on a former palace of Saddam Hussein, a poll about Turkish heritage, and measures to preserve rock carvings. When will this farce end?

It has been revealed that among all the separate discussions over citizens’ rights and the Brexit bill this week, UK and EU officials will also hammering out the new WTO regime. Even though the UK is already a member of the global trade body, it is the EU that takes ownership of Britain’s trading relationship with rest of world, as defined by the WTO’s ‘schedule of concessions’. The Schedules lay out the limits on tariffs, quotas and subsidies for trade between any two members.

Britain will have to extract its rights to certain subsidies and quotas from the existing allocation awarded to the EU by the WTO. London and Brussels have therefore decided to set the new schedules, jointly. Unsurprisingly, the EU is not making a big deal of this significant step, but it bodes well for the future progress of the trade deal that will eventually replace Britain’s membership of the bloc.

Quotas and tariffs only make up one part of each schedule, the second part deals with the free trade agreements. The negotiations starting in earnest this week and set for conclusion in the autumn therefore lay the groundwork for the UK’s smooth adoption of existing EU trade agreements, and of course, one with the EU.

Finally, it is now clear that Brexit Secretary David Davis’s intention this week has been to sit back and sound out the EU’s preposterous demand for an almighty divorce bill, not that the media see it that way.



Tuesday 18 July

David Davis launched substantive negotiations with Brussels yesterday but left after less than an hour of discussion. Pro-European voices suggest that Brexit talks are increasingly imperiled by the government’s slender parliamentary majority with many saying that Davis’ early departure was due to demands that he attend the House of Commons and participate in a vote against measures introduced by the Labour party. Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer was quick to attack Davis, claiming that the Brexit Secretary “can hardly say this is the time to ‘get down to business’ and then spend only a few minutes in Brussels before heading back to Whitehall.”

But Brexit Department insiders have dismissed the rumours as a ploy to make the UK appear weak. They insist that Mr Davis had always planned to withdraw from talks early after an initial meeting with chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier. The truth matters little to Britain’s professional Remoaners however, who seized upon a picture of the meeting during which Barnier and his cohorts had large dossiers and the UK negotiating team sat in front of an empty desk. The image depicted the very beginning of the meeting, before David had taken documents out of his briefcase, but why let facts get in the way of a good story?



Monday 17 July

New warnings from MigrationWatch expose the true costs of maintaining open door immigration from the EU as they project that a whopping 1.2m immigrants would be set to come to Britain in the course of the next decade. Meanwhile Remoaner ex-PM Tony Blair has egg on his face after a poll he commissioned revealed that the majority of British voters still back a clean break from the EU while only 21% desire a second referendum on the issue. The majority of voters also complained that our immigration system is too relaxed – no wonder after Blair opened our doors needlessly to eastern Europe in the early 2000s. It comes after a weekend of pathetic interventions from the hated politician, who insisted that it still isn’t too late to stop Brexit, dubbing efforts to frustrate the will of the people “absolutely necessary”.

But Blair isn’t the only tired politician trying to make anti-Brexit moves behind the scenes. Cabinet colleagues of Chancellor Philip Hammond are clearly getting sick of his Remoaning ways too with a series of leaks over the weekend designed to embarrass one of the country’s most prominent advocates of a fake Brexit. The Chancellor is reported to have made sexist remarks claiming that driving trains is so easy that “even a woman could do it” while blasting public sector workers for being overpaid. Wow.

With one eye on liberalising global trade and the other on ceasing to put developing nations exporting to the EU at a disadvantage, after half a century of agricultural protectionism through the CAP, Brussels has made the remarkable decision to advocate cuts to trade distorting subsidies.

The EU’s lavish agricultural subsidies are well known. While there is no intention to cut back on direct support to farmers, the European Union is expected to announce this week plans to reduce ‘market-stabilizing’ measures that set aside various assets to keep output and prices stable.

An alternative, less archaic and more efficient solution to poor harvests and outbreaks of disease like foot and mouth is to import more from abroad and the EU finally appears to be seeing some sense. This points to shame over the way in which Brussels has shoved agricultural exports from the developing world away from its markets, but also perhaps a sea change in thinking over global trade: you cannot expect to build global markets if you zealously protect your own. Either way, way it helps to further erode any sense that neighbouring countries are better of in the traditionally protectionist bloc than out.



Sunday 16 July

The latest season of Game of Thrones starts tomorrow however you would be forgiven for thinking the season opener had been brought forward by a day after the squabbling among Cabinet ministers on today’s front pages.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has accused hardline Brexiteers of leaking Cabinet discussions to the press as the fragility within the current Tory administration becomes ever more apparent. In the red corner, Labour’s position on Brexit is still clear as mud as John McDonnell refused to commit to leaving the Single Market on Marr, an evasive technique Rebecca Long-Bailey emulated an hour later with Andrew Neil.

And finally in the purple corner, as the UKIP leadership contest starts its engine, Nigel Farage weighed into the debate by warning the party it will be finished if it elects a staunch anti-Islam candidate – a not so discreet message to supporters of Anne-Marie Waters who is gathering a significant following within the party.

Winter is coming.


 

Saturday 15 July

Warmongering former prime minister, Tony Blair has caused controversy this morning by once again weighing into the Brexit debate, calling for it to be halted at all costs. His unwelcome intervention has been well and truly knocked back this morning by Nigel Farage who, speaking to Sky News said:

“He is showing people why he is one of the most disliked living figures in British politics – he wants to reverse the result of a democratic referendum!

The real irony here is of all the people to argue that we can get a reformed deal with the European Union, Tony Blair is probably the worst placed person to do so because he as Prime Minister was President of the EU for six months back in 2005, he promised reform of the Common Agricultural Policy – he got none and gave away £7bn of our rebate so I don’t think he is a trusted figure on this or frankly, anything else!”

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