Friday 22 September
This week in politics began a with a 4,000 word article and ends with a 5,000 word speech. A new chapter in the Brexit saga will begin today as Theresa May addresses a small crowd gathered from across Europe in a church in Florence at 2.15 pm UK time. The contents will not be music to the ears of Brexiteers increasingly impatient with the Government’s fudged-thinking and pessimism.
The Prime Minister will not be putting a finger on a precise figure, but there’s no disguising that by the end of today, the EU Establishment will be expecting a windfall of at least £18bn.
Britain will remain in the falsely entitled Single Market for a further two years. The original excuse for handing over extra hard-earned taxpayer cash was to avoid disrupting the EU’s current seven-year budget cycle, which ends in December 2020. But the transition will not end until March 2021. It appears our leaders – including Boris – are happy to lob an extra £2bn in the EU’s direction as a yet another gesture of goodwill.
Goodwill is to the EU, what water is to a desert. Furthermore, a transitional period, originally framed by May herself as a necessary measure to avoid a ‘cliff edge’ is anything but. After 2019, the UK will continue to not only pay into the budget, free movement shall also remain in place, complicating the issue over the cut-off point for those EU citizens who will be allowed to remain resident.
The Financial Times claims the Prime Minister will offer to enshrine in the exit treaty the rights of EU citizens eligible to remain in the UK. This too will be viewed as thin gruel in Brussels.
Hellbent on defying the people’s will by attempting to block the EU withdrawal bill, the Labour Party will be emboldened. What difference does it make whether the laws we are subject to are presided over by British or EU institutions when they are EU laws they will argue, convincingly.
By far and away the most essential measure for avoiding a cliff edge is the withdrawal bill, the attention should be focused on that, not staying in the single market for longer than is absolutely necessary.
Make no mistake, come this afternoon, our position will have been weakened. The EU will refuse to recognise the transition payments as part of the divorce bill and will therefore continue to stall negotiations in anticipation of more finance. And a fragile government will have exposed itself to two more years of de facto EU membership. 2021 will arrive a full five years after the referendum. By that point, the insulated elites will be all-too-ready to argue the referendum result voided by the passage of time and the absence of real change.
History will surely look back on today’s speech as a missed opportunity for strategic advantage. When the British Prime Minister could have used Florence as the ideal stage to promote a separate model for pan-European cooperation, one based on commercial interests recognising the sovereignty of the nation state foremost. An opportunity to resoundingly declare Britain is happy to go it alone, pledging to do everything to support businesses at home as they adapt to liberation from EU restrictions. If only the tone struck by Boris Johnson’s article had borne fruit.
Sir Teddy Taylor was one of the true eurosceptics and a deeply principled man. RIP. https://t.co/4qPYeCVzX7
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 21, 2017
Thursday 21 September
The Conservatives have struck an underwhelming compromise over much-needed stance in favour of a harder Brexit taken by Boris Johnson in his in the Telegraph article on Saturday. The Foreign Secretary has changed his schedule to join the Prime Minister for her speech in Florence on Friday, presumably to nod approvingly in the background to the various items he has managed to force in. Needless to say, Leave.EU does not expect to be overwhelmed.
As this update is being written the cabinet finds itself locked in a prolonged discussion over the contents of the speech. Contrary to the FT’s front page piece yesterday, Theresa May will not be pledging a specific figure amount of money to hand over to the EU, the other half of the Boris compromise. That will disappoint the EU. The papers are plastered with quotes from Commission officials expressing dismay over payments as “low” as £30bn. What planet are they on?
“Goodwill gestures are not enough – it is very doubtful that EU member states would consider that offer to be sufficient progress on its own,” a senior EU official told the Telegraph.
“What is crucial to Europe is that the UK makes a formal commitment to honour its specific past liabilities – even if the exact amount of those liabilities is left to be decided at a later date.”
Brussels insistence on agreeing on a “methodology” – i.e. identifying which liabilities the UK should pay – rather than identifying a precise figure is utterly laughable. The fact is, the United Kingdom has no legal obligation to cover made-up liabilities, and after handing hundreds of billions, does not have a moral one either.
We therefore find ourselves in a ridiculous state of affairs whereby the UK government resorts to plucking out generous figures to tempt Brussels into breaking the deadlock in negotiations and the EU saying it is much too low. On no occasion has Brussels indicated what exactly the UK should be paying for.
The merry-go-round points not only to the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier’s eagerness to extract as much money out of the UK as possible, but also his well-known tactic of running the clock down on the very brief two-year negotiating period under Article 50.
Barnier has been holding private sessions with business leaders and high-ranking politicians from across the EU27, during which he is unusually candid about the trade deal with Britain while trotting out the usual line over the lengthy period of time it will take to negotiate. Compared to the withdrawal negotiations, it will be a “painful, not pleasant, and costly” divorce, he is reported as saying.
Barnier’s austere posturing has clearly spooked Chancellor Philip Hammond and several others in the cabinet, successfully laying down the foundations for an interminable transition period. But the former EU Commissioner should take note. Scaremongering was the Establishment’s tactic of choice during the EU referendum and we all know how that ended up.
In today’s Telegraph, Brexit heroine Gisela Stuart airs her concerns over the telepathic connection between the Eurofanatics in Whitehall and their Commission counterparts determined to force Britain into a dodgy trade deal.
“They [Whitehall mandarins] claim that this is vital for our trade with Europe. Such arguments are frankly insulting. Countries around the world trade with the EU without letting Brussels control how they regulate their domestic economy”, she writes.
Wednesday 20 September
Boris Johnson told the Guardian last night he will not be resigning following a four-day campaign to unsettle the Prime Minister and force her into implementing the people’s will.
“I am mystified by all this stuff. Not me, guv. I don’t know where it is coming from, honestly. It feels to me like an attempt to keep the great snore-athon story about my article running. I think that is what is going on”, the Foreign Secretary said following allegations he’d threatened to resign if the Prime Minister pledged to take the United Kingdom into a Swiss-Style deal with the EU at her forthcoming speech in Florence.
As party conference approaches, the Tories are desperately attempting to close ranks and undo the discord fomented made by Johnson’s manoeuvres, which began with his 4,000 word article published on Saturday and calling for a Brexit giving no quarter to Brussels.
Johnson’s intervention appears to have had some effect without being conclusive. The cabinet is expected to sign off on the content of the speech today, intended to breakdown the deadlock in negotiations with the EU by offering to continue with payments to the EU during the transition period, but not after.
2020, that’s until when May intends to continue shovelling cash into the EU’s coffers according to the FT, amounting to €20m in total. Like the father approaching his unpopular child’s big birthday bash, Olly Robbins, the Prime Minister’s top EU adviser, has been darting around European capitals to drum up enthusiasm for Florence by promising the outrageous expenditure.
We can only hope Robbins is a rogue agent. Guido last night dug up an old article he wrote as a student defending the Soviet Union and regretting the lack of “alternative to the mad excesses of modern capitalism”. By that logic he must loath the lavish lunches laid out every day in the EU institutions.
“it’s ironic that for the past 40 years Britain has remained a champion of free trade while lacking the freedom to truly practice what we preach. All that is about to change”, writes Liam Fox in Brexit Central today. He makes the important and often ignored argument that Britain needs to expand its global trade position in order to bring about necessary structural changes to the national economy.
Optimism abound you might think? Let’s not be too hasty. Tony Blair is still alive and kicking, and calling upon the most advanced scientific techniques to inform Bloomberg there’s a 30 percent chance of Britain reversing its decision to leave the EU. Where he plucked that figure from, only the devil himself knows.
Tuesday 19 September
Expect the Cabinet divide to grow even larger over continued payments to the EU now that sources have revealed that Whitehall officials are considering paying £45bn to the European Union once we leave the failing bloc. It comes on the back of a weekend of division between those like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove who fought for Brexit in last June’s referendum – and join the majority of the British public in being opposed to further payments – and a cabal at the top of the government alleged to include Amber Rudd, Philip Hammond, and Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood.
Boris has publically reaffirmed his commitment to Mrs May and her government but senior figures spy the high drama of a potential leadership bid. Johnson and May are set to clash over the bill in New York this week as they meet at the United Nations following Theresa May’s successful trip to Canada to begin discussions of a post-Brexit trade deal with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. They were clear that a deal would be arranged quickly and would take CETA as its basis – but free of the fetters of European protectionism, significant progress should be possible over the existing EU pact.
Meanwhile the EU is struggling with its own divisions as patriotic Hungarian premier Viktor Orban hit out at Germany for its permissive migration policy and its insistence that the rest of Europe follow its path to disorder and chaos. Lashing out at controversial EU refugee policy, Orban said: “Today, pro-immigration countries wish to settle the difference between the two sides by recommending that we too become immigrant countries, and if we refuse, they force it on us. We want a Hungarian Hungary and a European Europe.” He went on to slam sinister activist billionaire George Soros – the Hungarian native with whom Orban has been locked in conflict for some time.
As Orban continues to resist EU overreach on matters of migration, he stands out as an example for other countries who wish to retain their national identity against the machinations of the forces of globalism and European technocracy. With thousands of migrants continuing to reach Europe’s shores through Greece, Italy, and Spain every month it’s time for leaders to wake up and heed the powerful message that makes Orban such a popular figure in Hungary before it’s too late.
Monday 18 September
Tensions continue to grow in the Cabinet after Boris Johnson’s re-emerged in the Brexit debate in a major way over the weekend. Penning an opinion piece in the Telegraph, the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson once again hailed the opportunities of Brexit while casting doubt on the split allegiance of Britain’s youth and rallying against the huge Brexit bill allegedly being prepared behind closed doors in Number 10.
The intervention drew outrage from the usual opponents of Brexit with Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable (who also accidentally let slip his delusional ambition to become UK Prime Minister while leading a dead party) calling for the Foreign Secretary to be sacked. But fellow Brexiteers Michael Gove and Priti Patel rallied around the Uxbridge MP, highlighting a strong divide on Brexit at the heart of the government.
Now Boris is set for a New York showdown with the Prime Minister over the £10bn a year payment she is rumoured to have agreed to establish a “transition deal” which will see Britain trapped in the most oppressive structures of the European Union for another three years after our formal exit from the bloc by April 2019. He – like most of the British public – consider such a surrender totally unacceptable. What a breath of fresh air it is to have a senior member of the Cabinet speaking a little common sense and standing up for the British taxpayer.
Meanwhile arrests have been made over the failed Parsons Green tube attack. An 18-year-old and a 21-year-old have been arrested thus far, with reports suggesting that both entered the country as refugees and were raised in the same foster home. The 21-year-old suspect has been named as Yahyah Farroukh – a Syrian migrant who eeked out a living as a nightclub promoter. The 18-year-old is also believed to be a refugee, this time from Iraq.
The younger of the pair is rumoured to have been a subject of constant police concern, with neighbours of the foster parents recalling a constant parade of plain clothes police visiting the home. It turns out that United States President Donald Trump – who was roundly condemned by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary Amber Rudd for “speculating” that the culprits were known to the authorities – was absolutely right yet again. If only our own politicians faced down this problem with such honesty…
Friday 15 September
The tectonic plates of Establishment opinion are shifting, but still not quickly enough to catch up with the public. Any doubts over the unpopularity of mass immigration, have finally been annihilated by an Ipsos Mori poll which found it to be unwelcome the world over.
Only 10% of people in Italy, 11% in Belgium, 14% in France and 18% in Germany and as little as 5% in Hungary – which forms part of the EU’s external border – feel that immigration has had a positive impact. The global average is just 21%, propped up by Brexit Britain of all countries, where 40% of respondents were positive.
Politico reports today that Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, despite being loathed by the Brussels elites, is beginning to change policy Europe-wide.
A senior official is quoted as saying, “nobody will admit it in this town, but yes, Orbán’s narrative is prevailing”. And you do not have to look far to uncover the evidence.
According to the Times, France and Germany are now pushing for the Schengen free-passport zone to be paused for periods of four years at a time. This revelation comes after yet another attack on French servicemen. A soldier was attacked this morning with a knife in Paris.
Even Jean-Claude Juncker has joined in on the rational desire for stronger borders. Inserted in his otherwise alarming speech for more Europe and less democracy on Wednesday, the Commission President said: “When it comes to returns: People who have no right to stay in Europe must be returned to their countries of origin”.
But of course, Juncker, Macron and Merkel are all well behind voters’ preferences. What Europe needs is to get rid of free movement altogether. Sovereign national governments should decide who comes and in and out and for how long. The European elite will never come to that realisation.
Europe is not only starting to see sense over borders. Asked whether Britain would be sent to the back of the trade queue, Investment Commissioner Jyrki Katainen replied: “Forget this nonsense. As soon as we know about the future arrangement, negotiations will start then”.
Investment is a key component of the EU’s trade strategy so Katainen’s views count. Having only joined the EU in 1995, his native Finland is not a Luxembourg, a Germany, or a France, but a dynamic, trade-focused economy, on the record as being the most alarmed by the amount of good after bad money thrown into Greece.
As the founding EU members begin to see sense over the Brexit vote, supported by the pro-trade players throughout the rest of Europe, optimism towards a decent trade deal can only grow.
Thursday 14 September
The next round of Brexit negotiations will be pushed back a week to make way for a grand speech delivered by the Prime Minister in Florence.
Theresa May is trying to figure out how to reenergize discussions following a deadlock over EU demands for a generous divorce settlement. Known for her landmark speeches (the “nasty party” in 2002, the Policemen’s Union in 2014 and Lancaster House at the beginning of this year) Mrs May appears to value the former trade centre’s renaissance heritage. The Tuscan city will act as a symbol of pragmatic, largely commercial pan-European relations, underpinning both the breadth and limits of what cross-continental should look like.
The Prime Minister would be wise recognise that speeches have their place and heed the advice of the likes of Lord King though. Appearing on Newsnight, the former governor of the Bank of England proposed a second “capable” team of civil servants be assembled to focus on maximizing the benefits of Brexit should the EU decide not to sign a trade deal. Disdainfully questioned on his equivocal position during the referendum campaign by host Evan Davis, Lord King replied:
“In the long run, I didn’t think the economic consequences would be very different if we left than if we stayed in just the same way that I don’t think joining transformed the British economy.
“I also said that if you’re going to enter into a negotiation it’s very important to make that the other side of the table knows you have a fall-back position that you’re capable of delivering. That requires you to make clear publicly what the fall-back position is. We’ve been waiting for over a year now and I must say that I’m not very impressed by how much of the fall-back position has actually been stated and implemented.”
Captain of British industry, James Dyson appeared on the Today Programme this morning to buttress Lord King’s assertions adding that his company already pays the WTO tariff to sell goods into the Single Market before explain that the Single Market is anything but (click here to hear what he said, well worth a listen).
Brexit superstar Jacob Rees-Mogg appeared on LBC this morning to strike out at the Jean-Claude Juncker’s stupidity in pushing for more Europe when the rest of the continent wishes for anything but: “a United States of Europe is Juncker’s dream, but it is everyone else’s nightmare”, he said.
Another star in the form of Ringo joined in to proudly declare his optimism over Brexit. “I think it’s a great move to be in control over your own country”.
Wednesday 13 September
The Government secured an important victory in the House of Commons last night as an amendment to the House’s Order of Business over committees was passed 320 to 301. The amendment was introduced to enable the Government to hash out the technical details of the EU withdrawal bill in House Committees speedily.
Under normal circumstances, the composition of committees should reflect the Commons. The Conservatives have had to tamper with the system as they do not enjoy a Commons majority. Naturally, Labour, who oppose the EU withdrawal bill on the grounds the Government should not be given too much power, are energetically against the committee amendment.
As so often, the casual observer could rely on Jacob Rees Mogg to provide much-needed perspective:
“What we are dealing with is purely administrative, not highfalutin constitutionalism. We know, because the Queen’s Speech was carried, that in the House there is a majority for the Government’s programme,” he said.
Nigel Farage is in Strasbourg today for the EU’s tawdry State of the Union address delivered by Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker. In a meandering speech (they always are) on the future direction of the EU, Juncker appealed for European solidarity shortly before making a less than subtle dig at Hungary and Poland by calling for the application of the rule of law.
Over the past year, both Budapest and Warsaw have implemented policies that brush with much of the wishy-washy content of the EU treaties without breaking any of the more robustly worded single market regulations, incensing Brussels. These are plainly not issues of rule of law, but the Brussels elites are damned if they care so long as they portray the independent policies of sovereign governments as heinous to the Guardian readers and their cross-channel equivalents.
Poland incidentally, was issued with a one-month ultimatum yesterday over its judicial reform: reverse them and accept some refugees for good measure or be hauled before the European Court of Justice. They must be petrified.
Farage was alone in jumping on Juncker’s low blows. “The way you’re treating Hungary and Poland is a reminder of living under the Soviets and the communists,” he said to applause and boos from a majority of MEPs entranced by Juncker’s gushy rhetoric.
In other news, UK unemployment has dropped to 4.3%, the lowest since 1975, shortly after the UK joined the EU. A report by the Fundamental Rights Agency – an EU organisation no less – found anti-Semitism in the UK to be at extremely low levels by European standards. And the Henry Jackson Society published a report ranking the UK as the number one soft power in Europe, second only to the US globally.
Listening to the pro-EU media, you would be forgiven for thinking Britain is drowning in economic stagnation, social backwardness and a severe regression in international prestige. Maybe they should check the facts.
Tuesday 12 September
The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons last night, in part due to seven Labour rebels who defied Jeremy Corbyn’s whip and stood up for the British people. Kate Hoey, Frank Field, Ronnie Campbell, Kelvin Hopkins, John Mann, Dennis Skinner, and Graham Stringer backed the bill, while other Labour figures like Caroline Flint abstained to allow the bill to pass. Frank Field spoke early in the debate, warning his Labour allies that voting for the bill was “the only option for the referendum result to be implemented”.
Ms Flint, who backed Remain in last year’s referendum but made a commitment to her constituents to cut migration at the last general election, was heckled by Europhile Labour colleagues in the House of Commons as she spoke out against efforts to kill the legislation and pleaded for openness from the government.
The bill passed shortly after midnight with a vote of 326 to 290, while Labour’s wrecking amendment was thwarted in a 318 to 296 count. It will now pass to the committee stage where it will face further scrutiny, allowing conscientious MPs like Ms Flint to influence the legislation without standing against the will of the British people as expressed by last June’s referendum. What a shame that most of her fellow Labour MPs showed their true colours last night by attempting to subvert the largest democratic exercise in the history of our nation.
Meanwhile, Norway went to the polls yesterday. The big winners were Trygve Slagsvold Vedum’s Centre Party – a Eurosceptic group that wants to pull Norway out of the EEA and replace it with a simple free trade agreement with the European Union. They piled on eight seats in the Storting while all three of its major competitors lost ground. As Brexit gets fully underway, even the people of Norway are turning against the Remoaners’ beloved Norway option. Will they keep trying to sell it to the unimpressed people of Britain?
Monday 11 September
MPs will vote on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill tonight with Brexit Secretary David Davis warning that “a vote against this Bill is a vote for a chaotic exit from the European Union”. He went on to stress “that there will be no unexpected changes to our laws after exit day and that is exactly what the repeal bill provides”, but Europhiles aren’t buying it.
Ex-Eurosceptic turned Brexit traitor Jeremy Corbyn has ordered his party to vote against the bill, although a number are poised to defy the Labour leader and back the legislation. Remainer Caroline Flint, who served as Europe Minister under Gordon Brown, is one of them: “I believe Labour’s job is to improve this bill, not kill it.” Unfortunately, her view is not representative of many in her party who have acted like sore losers since the referendum – and now they’ve finally convinced the leadership of their party to join their quest to obstruct our exit from the corrupt European Union.
The Lib Dems meanwhile continue to challenge Labour to match an even higher standard of contempt for democracy by calling for Corbyn to sack front bench rebels who back the government’s bill. Their demand comes after a weekend of impotent protest against Brexit in London during which Lib Dem leader Vince Cable made a star appearance.
Chief Remoaner Gina Miller is throwing her weight around in the courts again, forcing the government to concede that they will seek parliamentary approval for the £1bn of public funds promised to Northern Ireland in their negotiations with the DUP. Given that the Tories and the DUP have a majority in the House of Commons – the very alliance the settlement was intended to seal – it’s hard to envisage what Miller intended to achieve with her latest obnoxious intervention into public life.
Friday 8 September
Brexit minister and arch Eurosceptic Steve Baker is alleged to have put his name to a letter attacking the Government’s transition policy. “Thanks for everyone’s support,” wrote Mr Baker to Eurosceptic Tory colleagues over WhatsApp following his debut at the dispatch box in the House of Commons. Baker and his fellow MPs, all members of the pro-independence European Research Group are said to have interpreted his message as an endorsement of the letter that argues, “when we leave in 2019 we need to make sure we are well and truly out”. The letter, which was due to be published in this Sunday’s papers, was leaked on Wednesday.
Baker was joined by Treasury aide Suella Fernandes MP, who made her disapproval of the Chancellor known in commending the letter.
“In normal times Steve Baker’s encouragement to sign this letter would be a sacking offence,” said a Government source who was rather less optimistic about Fernandes’, a form chair of the European Research Group, chances of staying in her job. Indeed, these are not normal times. Baker is fighting for the democratic will of the people against a mighty fifth column in the cabinet. He deserves credit for everything does towards that objective.
Meanwhile, the liberal media is howling with despair over the latest development in the Labour Party’s obsession with Henry VIII powers for the purpose of adopting endless amounts of EU legislation in time for March 2019. Under “motions relating to House business”, the Government aims to twist the rules to ensure key committees are occupied by a majority of Tory MPs even though the party does not have a parliamentary majority. Under the EU withdrawal bill, the committees will oversee the adoption of secondary legislation without the need for Commons approval. The House will vote on the motion next week.
The Labour party will cry foul. But if the Party’s MPs are not mature enough to engage with the EU Withdrawal Bill properly, they have no moral grounds to complain when they get cut out.
Thursday 7 September
Parliament began the second reading of the EU Withdrawal Bill today. The Labour Party is persisting with its disgraceful decision to vote against it. In an interview with Politico, Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer once again pedalled the line that the Government cannot be allowed to rule by decree. Denying the public will, surely that is a far greater crime.
The elitist Lords are on Sir Keir’s side, describing it in their report released today as “an unprecedented and extraordinary portmanteau of effectively unlimited powers upon which the Government could draw. They would fundamentally challenge the constitutional balance of powers between Parliament and Government and would represent a significant—and unacceptable—transfer of legal competence”.
Faced with this sentiment currently stinking out Parliament, together with a scathing headline in George Osborne’s evening Standard, David Davis returned fire when opening the second reading debate today:
“I don’t read the Evening Standard, I have to tell you, and it sounds like with good reason… if I’m going to take lectures on rule by decree, it won’t be from the editor of the Evening Standard”.
Yesterday’s Daily Update suggested that Wednesday’s leak of a Home Office paper proposing strict limits on EU migrants was purposefully allowed into the ether by the Government to create negotiating space with Brussels for a big ugly compromise. Whether that was the case or not remains to be seen, nevertheless the EU was all too eager to interpret the entirely unofficial document as a bargaining chip at the earliest possible opportunity.
An EU official told the Times yesterday that a transition deal would be out of the question if the UK were to persist with the migration restriction outlined in the document.
“Limits on numbers of people or categories of migrant worker are incompatible with single market access, whether in a transition or the future, as the EU has spelt out as a red line,” said the insider.
It is a useful measure of the sanity still in abundance here in the United Kingdom and absent in the gilded corridors of the EU that the idea of a sovereign nation exercising a selective immigration policy is rightly deemed completely rational here, and utterly preposterous over there.
Then of course, yet again, there’s the threat of restricted Single Market access. With the exception of arms, North Korea’s dangerously mad regime is allowed to import from and export to the EU whatever it wants. Unless posing a threat by means of every conceivable industrial and agricultural good it impossible to be denied access to the EU market.
Wednesday 6 September
A leaked Home Office document laying out in detail the Government’s future immigration policy regarding EU nationals has sparked elation and mutterings of confusion in near equal measure. The paper makes a welcome departure from the Conservative Party’s obsession with pleasing low-cost labour hungry businesses by laying down provisions for businesses to look to the domestic labour market before exploring recruitment options further afield.
Crucially, the paper distinguishes between high and low-skilled workers, with the latter heavily restricted in their ability to join the UK workforce, stay beyond two years, and bring family members from abroad to join them in the UK.
The document, leaked by the Guardian, contradicts the Government’s public preference for a transition deal by proposing implementation of the various recommendations immediately after Britain leaves the EU. The confusion is compounded by comments from a Whitehall insider published in the Times:
“This [document] was drawn up by Home Office officials still working to Theresa May rather than Amber Rudd. She has been working to modify this significantly and it is not where the government is any more.”
According to the source, Theresa May, who as Home Secretary oversaw a historic increase in immigration, now finds herself leading the argument for a less open immigration policy against Brexit campaigners Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, supported by the current Home Secretary, Rudd.
May’s own dubious credentials as an advocate of a more selective immigration policy would indicate the document was deliberately leaked by Number 10 to act as a sign that a soon-to-be independent United Kingdom fully intends to exercise its repatriated sovereign powers at the earliest opportunity. A show of force to a Brussels elite revelling in pot shots over how “stupid” the referendum outcome was.
Or is Remainer May simply reclaiming the starting position of her January Lancaster House speech, which has since been undermined by successful calls from within her own cabinet for a post-Brexit transition period?
Even though the document has not been approved at cabinet level, its length (82 pages), recent composition (last month), and its publication a Remain respected newspaper have encouraged the mass media to treat it as an official document, a status reinforced by the Government’s existing position on immigration, which is limited to the future of EU migrants already resident in the UK. Rather than being a spring bud of future government policy, is the leaked paper, in fact, an opening position on the future of UK-EU migration, one that is open to compromise?
With the Article 50 negotiations currently at a standstill over the loathed divorce bill, a commitment Johnson and Gove essentially promised during the referendum campaign would never be made, this Tory Government has every incentive to divert attention to the other prize in the EU’s sights, continued free movement.
Tuesday 5 September
Welcome back to Leave.EU’s week-day updates, here to unpick the good the bad and the ugly of Britain’s historic withdrawal from the European Union.
Following Monday’s revelation in Politico of Brexit Secretary David Davis’s preference to speed up the tempo of Article 50 negotiations – from one week on, three weeks off to week-by-week – the Government has announced its intention to publish a flurry of new position papers.
A paper on science and innovation will be published on Thursday. Positions on external and internal security, and fair and open trade are to follow next week. The release of these documents will come either side of the second reading of the Withdrawal Bill.
The behaviour over Davis’s counterparts over the channel has been rather less businesslike, with the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier claiming British voters need to be taught a lesson about what it really means to leave the single market over the weekend before Jean-Claude Juncker’s attack dog, Martin Selmayr described the Brexit decision as “stupid”.
Even the Armani suited wonks in Brussels are getting tired of these petulant tactics. One senior EU official is quoted as saying, “Imagine if DD said something aggressive and stupid about the EU and then denied saying it,” adding, “they’ve all come out swinging. One does wonder why they’ve chosen now to up the rhetoric.”
Why indeed. Davis’s request to set aside more time to lock horns at the negotiating table hints at an impasse over the EU’s outrageous divorce bill demands. Another EU official told the Times: “We said we can have more rounds if they want. If they have substance. But frankly, we have run out of things to explore”.
Davis has already pledged to cough up some taxpayer cash to the EU on “moral”, if not legal grounds. Are we to expect a theatrically extended deadlock after which the popular Brexiteer will emerge having claimed he did everything to avoid writing yet another fat cheque?
Beyond the nitty gritty of the UK’s exit from the EU, International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox has admitted he is not making progress he would like to be, citing a lack of his own department. Encouragingly, if not surprisingly, the arch-Brexiteer said a number of countries had said they would like to “move directly to a new free-trade agreement”.