Wednesday 11 October
“Britain will leave the European Union in March 2019, and we will also leave its customs union and its single market”, opens Philip Hammond in a piece for the Times, but as Leave.EU revealed in yesterday’s blog, the Chancellor is finding out imaginative ways of keeping the UK in both post-Brexit.
Scandalously, he claims, “the government and the Treasury are prepared. We are planning for every outcome and we will find any necessary funding and we will only spend it when it’s responsible to do so”. Monday’s Treasury document on future options for customs regimes is jam-packed with options for various outcomes, but not a single penny has been spent on adapting and enlarging existing systems.
There’s not much reading between the lines here. Mr Hammond is planning for only one set of options, a deep customs arrangement, which would bar the UK from meaningful trade deals with the rest of the world. If he, Theresa May and David Davis fail to set up that kind of arrangement before the transition deal ends, it will simply never end. Brexit only in name.
The Chancellor makes his pre-budget appearance before the Treasury Select Committee at 9.45, but do not expect a grilling, the committee is chaired by arch-Remainer, Nicky Morgan.
Following the Government’s formal acknowledgement of the possibility of a no-deal, the Sun has collected a number of quotes from unnamed cabinet figures with estimates as to the likelihood of that outcome. Two Leavers say 50/50, while a Remainer puts it at a slightly more optimistic 40%.
One of the two Brexiteers added: “No proper leadership means departments have stopped preparing for no deal, and they are using our lack of a majority as an excuse.
“It is killing our negotiating hand, as the EU is watching us very carefully and they can see just how little we’re doing too”.
The article also reports Philip Hammond has signalled his intention to pledge more funds to Brussels if trade talks with the EU have not begun by the New Year. Catastrophic.
It should therefore come as no surprise that not the slightest rumour of a breakthrough has come out of Brussels where the two negotiating teams are coming to the end of their final session before the European Council Summit next week.
That has not stopped Michel Barnier from jumping the gun and begin pushing for the disgraceful post-2019 transition period. The Times glowingly reports of Barnier’s dogged endeavour.
Of all EU nations, the one that has benefited the most from a devalued currency under the Eurozone, Germany refuses to grant an extension until it sees a firmer financial commitment from the UK.
“Germany wants more and it wants it more or less in writing,” said one diplomat.