Posts Tagged ‘David Davis’

EU readies ‘David Davis-proof’ Brexit summit

December 12, 2017


BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union plays down talk by Britain’s Brexit minister that last week’s interim accord is not binding and will launch new talks on Friday that are “David Davis-proof”, a senior EU official said.

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David Davis

The comment on Tuesday followed Brexit Secretary Davis’s weekend remark that outline divorce terms were more a “statement of intent” than legally binding.

The EU official told reporters that EU leaders meeting on Friday will ram home in guidelines to their negotiator that Britain must honor its agreements so far if it wants to discuss the future free trade treaty it wants.

Davis himself pledged to convert last Friday’s deal into “legal text” as soon as possible after he spoke to the European Parliament’s Brexit point man. Guy Verhofstadt branded Davis’s earlier comment “unhelpful” and said that what the EU executive calls a gentleman’s agreement must be made legal.

British and EU officials said that would mean agreeing the formal withdrawal treaty within the coming year so that it can be ratified by their parliaments before Brexit in March 2019.

Davis’s EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, said he aimed in the new year to present a draft of a withdrawal treaty that would reflect the accords struck with Prime Minister Theresa May last week on settling financial obligations, the rights of expatriate citizens and ensuring no “hard” EU border with Northern Ireland.

Adding to the debate over how far London is bound by May’s deal, Barnier insisted there should be “no backtracking” if London is to have the trade negotiations it so much wants.

That is spelled out in legal language in the negotiating guidelines which leaders are expected to approve on Friday after May has left the summit: “Negotiations in the second phase can only progress as long as all commitments undertaken during the first phase are respected in full and translated faithfully into legal terms as quickly as possible,” the draft guidelines read.

That, the senior EU official said, made clear there could be no going back, as Davis had implied might be possible: “The guidelines are David Davis-proof,” the official said.

Guidelines were sent by summit chair Donald Tusk to the 27 other national leaders on Friday. They were little changed when their aides met on Monday to prepare the meeting, principally to spell out more clearly the timing of the next steps in the process and to emphasize continuing obligations on London.

An intention to start negotiating a transition period from Brexit to a future trade pact early in 2018 now includes a plan to be able to launch talks in January. The new draft makes clearer that talks on what happens after transition will start only after further guidelines are agreed in March.

Tusk, in his formal letter on Tuesday inviting leaders to the summit, warned there was no time to lose and highlighted a gnawing concern in Brussels that keeping divergent interests among the 27 in check may be much harder when it comes to a free trade treaty than it has been in settling Britain’s divorce.

“This will be a furious race against time, where again our unity will be key,” Tusk wrote. “And the experience so far has shown that unity is a sine qua non of an orderly Brexit.”

EU officials expect relatively straightforward talks on the transition period, given British desire for a quick deal and EU insistence that it be as simple as possible; essentially Britain will retain all its obligations as an EU member, as well as many of its rights — except, crucially, any say over EU decisions.

Starting trade talks will require, first, more information from May on what future deal she wants. Davis spoke at the weekend of a free trade pact similar to but better than one the EU concluded last year with Canada — “Canada Plus Plus Plus”.

But it will also require hard bargaining among the 27, who have very different relationships and interests with Britain.

Additional reporting by Alastair Macdonald in Brussels and William James and Kate Holton in London; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg



Make EU gentleman’s agreement with Britain binding: EU lawmakers

December 12, 2017

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Parliament will insist on quickly making the deal reached between the European Union and Britain on divorce terms legally binding, worried London may not honor a gentleman’s agreement, the parliament’s chief Brexit coordinator said.

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European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt holds a news conference following the official triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the Brexit in Brussels, Belgium, March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The EU and Britain, which is will leave the EU in March 2019, agreed last Friday on the divorce terms in three key areas — a financial settlement, citizens’ rights and how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The European Commission said on Monday the deal was not legally binding yet, but it regarded it “as a deal between gentlemen” with “the clear understanding that it is fully backed and endorsed by the UK government”.

But Britain’s Brexit minister David Davis said on Sunday that the deal, which allows both sides to start talks on a future trade agreement crucial for Britain, was more of a “statement of intent” than a legally binding measure.

This caused concern among EU officials that London may want to go back on the agreement.

“Remarks by David Davis that Phase One deal last week not binding were unhelpful and undermines trust. European Parliament text will now reflect this and insist agreement translated into legal text as soon as possible,” Guy Verhofstadt, who leads the European Parliament Brexit coordination team, tweeted.

He said that after Davis’s “unacceptable remarks”, the European Parliament will ask EU leaders meeting on Brexit on Friday to formally make negotiations on a future trade agreement with London conditional on including the agreement so far in full in the treaty on Britain leaving the EU.

A draft text which leaders are set to adopt on Friday already states that “negotiations in the second phase can only progress as long as all commitments undertaken during the first phase are respected in full and translated faithfully in legal terms as quickly as possible”.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Alastair Macdonald

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EU’s Barnier rules out full EU-UK trade pact in time for Brexit — David Davis accused of undermining trust as “All Hell Broke Loose”

December 12, 2017


BRUSSELS (Reuters) – There is “no possibility” that Britain and the European Union can conclude a free trade agreement by the time Britain leaves in March 2019, EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barner said on Tuesday.

 Image result for Michel Barnier, photos

European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier holds a press conference at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Asked about suggestions in London that a trade deal could be ready for signature shortly after Britain is no longer an EU member, Barnier reiterated the EU’s official line that only a “political declaration” outlining future trading relations would be ready at the time of Britain’s withdrawal.

He told reporters after he had briefed EU ministers ahead of a leaders’ summit on Friday that negotiating a free trade pact would take longer.

He also stressed that there must be “no backtracking” by Britain on an outline divorce package agreed last week if it wants to negotiate the future relationship.

He said that after the summit he hoped he would be able to present draft language early in the new year on the withdrawal treaty, elements of which were agreed last Friday.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald, Editing by Gabriela Baczynska


EU Parliament to harden Brexit stance after scathing attack on David Davis for ‘undermined trust’ on divorce bill

European Parliament Members Vow To Get Tough With London Over Brexit — “How can Britain be taken seriously globally if it behaves like a gangster in its international relationships?”

December 12, 2017


© AFP/File | “How can Britain be taken seriously globally if it behaves like a gangster in its international relationships?” said Philippe Lamberts (Belgian politician and Member of the European Parliament (MEP))

The EU will harden its position on Brexit trade talks after London said it would only pay its divorce bill if it got a deal, leading European parliamentarians said on Tuesday.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, said EU leaders meeting for a summit this week would now insist on the divorce terms being legally binding.

He condemned “unacceptable” comments by Britain’s Brexit Minister David Davis in which Davis said a deal struck to seal separation arrangements and open talks on future relations was a “statement of intent” rather than “legally enforceable.”

“I have seen a hardening of the position of the council (EU leaders), and there will be a hardening position of the parliament,” which will vote on a Brexit motion on Wednesday, Verhofstadt told reporters at the parliament in Strasbourg, France.

“It’s clear that the European Council will be more strict now in saying… we want that these commitments are translated into legal texts before we make progress in the second phase.”

Verhofstadt added that Davis’s comments were an “own goal” that was “undermining the trust that is necessary in such negotiations.”

The European Parliament was now adding two amendments to the resolution it will vote on on Wednesday dealing with Davis’s comments.

The EU negotiating guidelines that national leaders are set to adopt in Brussels on Friday will meanwhile say phase two talks can only start once the divorce commitments are “translated faithfully in legal terms,” according to a draft seen by AFP.

The EU leaders will also say that talks on trade will not start until March, to give the British government time to provide “further clarity” on what it wants from the future relationship.

Philippe Lamberts, the Green group’s representative in the European Parliament’s Brexit steering group, said Britain’s attitude now would hurt its attempts to reach post-Brexit trade deals with other countries, for example Australia.

“How can Britain be taken seriously globally if it behaves like a gangster in its international relationships?” Lamberts said.

UK won’t pay Brexit bill if no trade deal agreed: Davis

December 10, 2017


© AFP | Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator David Davis (left) and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier

LONDON (AFP) – Brexit Secretary David Davis said Sunday Britain will not honour financial commitments agreed this week with the European Union if they fail to secure a future trade deal, contradicting finance minister Philip Hammond.”No deal means that we won’t be paying the money,” he told the BBC.

“It is conditional on an outcome. It is conditional on getting an implementation period, it is conditional on a trade outcome,” he said.

“It has been made clear by number 10 already. So that’s not actually new,” Davis added, referring to the Downing Street office and residence of British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Under an initial agreement reached with the EU on Friday, Britain will pay a financial settlement of between £35 billion-£39 billion (40-45 billion euros, $47-52 billion) for leaving the bloc in March 2019.

The 15-page document, detailing post-Brexit arrangements for citizens’ rights and the Irish border, was hammered out after nearly six months of negotiations and now allows the talks to move on to a future trade deal.

Davis’ stance contradicts comments from Hammond on Wednesday, who said London would pay the bill regardless of their outcome.

“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed in this negotiation,” he told a parliamentary committee.

“But I find it inconceivable that we as a nation would be walking away from an obligation that we recognised as an obligation,” he said.

“That is not a credible scenario. That is not the kind of country we are. Frankly, it would not make us a credible partner for future international agreements.”

A spokeswoman for the Treasury reached Sunday declined to comment on Davis’ remarks.


Brexit: May’s EU deal not binding, says David Davis — Britain should sign a Canada-style trade deal with the European Union after Brexit

December 10, 2017

BBC News

David Davis

The UK’s Brexit negotiator David Davis has described the deal struck by Theresa May to move to the next phase of talks as a “statement of intent”.

He said it was not “legally enforceable” and if the UK failed to get a trade deal with the EU then it would not pay its divorce bill.

But he stressed that the UK was committed to keeping a “frictionless and invisible” Irish border.

And it would “find a way” to do this if there was a “no deal” Brexit.

The Brexit secretary also stressed that the odds of the UK exiting without a deal had “dropped dramatically” following Friday’s joint EU-UK statement in Brussels.

And he spelled out the kind of trade deal he wanted with the EU, describing it as “Canada plus plus plus”.

‘Hard border’

Canada’s deal with the EU, signed last year, removes the vast majority of customs duties on EU exports to Canada and Canadian exports to the EU.

But Mr Davis said it did not include trade in services, something he wanted to see in the UK’s “bespoke” deal with the EU.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has previously suggested the Brexit divorce bill – which the Treasury says will be between £35bn and £39bn – will be paid even if no EU trade deal is struck.

Prime Minister Theresa May signed an agreement on Friday ruling out the return of a “hard border” on the island of Ireland, protecting the rights of EU and UK citizens and agreeing a formula for the divorce bill.

EU leaders are now expected to recommend starting the next phase of Brexit talks at a summit on Thursday.

But Mr Davis stressed Friday’s agreement was conditional on achieving an “overarching” trade deal with the EU, agreements on security and foreign affairs, as well as the two year transition period the UK wants after if officially leaves the EU in March 2019.

Friday’s agreement includes a fallback position if the UK fails to get a trade deal, which proposes full regulatory “alignment” between the EU and the UK.

This clause had been diluted at the insistence of the Democratic Unionist Party, which fears Northern Ireland would be separated from the rest of the UK, and move closer to Ireland, if it had to adopt EU rules to keep goods flowing across the border.

Labour’s position

But there is still controversy, and confusion, over what “full alignment” would mean in practice, with some Brexiteers fearing the UK would have to continue to abide by EU regulations on agriculture and other issues after Brexit.

Mr Davis said: “I think if we don’t get a deal we’re going to have to find a way of making sure we keep the frictionless border – as it were an invisible border – in Northern Ireland.

“We do it at the moment. Understand something: at the moment there are different tax and levy regimes and excise regimes north and south of the border.

“We manage that without having border posts allotted along the 300 roads there and we will find a way of doing that.”

The UK’s opposition Labour party has ruled out remaining in the EU single market and customs union if it wins power.

But the party’s shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the party wanted a partnership with the EU that “retains the benefits of the single market and the customs union”.

Asked if Theresa May’s deal would mean Britain would stay very close to the single market and the customs union, he said: “Yes, and I think that’s the right thing and I think we should hold her to that because that goes to the heart of the question what sort of Britain do we want to be?

“Do we see Europe as our major trading partner in the future or do we want to rip ourselves apart from that?”

Asked if Britain would have to carry on paying some money in, he said: “Norway pays money in, they do it actually on a voluntary basis… there may have to be payments, that’s to be negotiated.”


Britain should sign a Canada-style trade deal with the European Union after Brexit


Britain should sign a Canada-style trade deal with the European Union after Brexit, David Davis said today.

The Exiting the Exiting the European Union secretary said that he thought a substantive trade deal can be struck within a year.

Mr Davis’s backing for a Canada-style deal lays bare the divisions in the Cabinet with other Remain-supporting ministers like Philip Hammond supporting a deal which would leave Britain more aligned with the EU, like Norway.

Mr Davis used an interview on the Andrew Marr programme on BBC 1 to set out his vision for the UK outside the European Union a week before the Cabinet holds a formal discussion of the ‘end state’ of the Brexit talks.

Mr Davis said he wanted to see an “over-arching trade deal” based on Canada’s trade treaty with the European Union but  including services.

It would set out “individual arrangements for aviation, nuclear and for data”, as well, he said, describing it as “Canada plus plus plus”.

He said: “All we want is a bespoke outcome. We will probably start with the best of Canada, the best of Japan and the best of South Korea.

“And then add to that the bits that are missing – which are the services.”

The Exiting the EU secretary said that the odds of against leaving with no deal from the EU have “dropped dramatically”.

Mr Davis also delivered a slapdown for Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, who said recently that Britain will continue to pay into the EU whatever the terms of the exit.

Asked if “under all circumstances we will pay the money to the EU”, Mr Davis said: “No it is conditional on an outcome that isn’t quite right.

“It is conditional on a trade outcome and other elements of the treaty like foreign affairs and security.”

Brexit Breakthrough Struck as Path Cleared for Tough Trade Talks

December 8, 2017


By Emma Ross-Thomas, Nikos Chrysoloras, Ian Wishar, and  Viktoria Dendrinou

 Updated on 
  • May reaches deal on Irish border with DUP, Ireland’s Varadkar
  • European officials warn that the hardest part lies ahead
 BREAKING: Britain and EU reach a Brexit deal, opening the way for trade talks

The U.K. and the European Union struck a deal to unlock divorce negotiations, opening the way for talks on what businesses are keenest to nail down — the nature of the post-Brexit future.

A deal was sealed before dawn in Brussels after talks went through the night. While the EU said it had given ground, Prime Minister Theresa May conceded on all the main issues, bringing to Brussels an offer on the financial settlement, an agreement on Europeans living in the U.K. and a solution to keep open the border that divides the island of Ireland after the split.

The last turned out to be the thorniest, requiring delicate four-way talks as the Northern Irish party that holds the balance of power in London wielded a powerful veto until the last minute. The issue is far from resolved and threatens to dog the next stage of negotiations. The leader of the Northern Irish party that holds the balance of power in London said her lawmakers could still vote down a final exit deal if they’re not happy.

The pound initially rose before erasing its gains. According to Vassilis Karamanis, a currency strategist writing for Bloomberg, it shows that while traders recognized that a crucial phase had been reached, the path ahead could be even “more frustrating and time-consuming.”

Read more: U.K.’s Irish Fudge Will Come Back to Haunt May as Foster Hedges

The U.K. has now won the prize it has been seeking since March — the right to start discussing relations between the two when Britain parts ways with the bloc after 40 years. Crucially, the EU said it was ready to start talking about the transition deal that businesses are keen to pin down. But EU officials warned that the most difficult bit lies ahead.

“So much time has been devoted to the easier part of the task and now to negotiate a transition arrangement and the framework for our future relationship we have, de facto, less than a year,” European Council President Donald Tusk said. “We all know that breaking up is hard but breaking up and building a new relation is much harder.”

The View from London: How Brexit Cheerleaders are responding to the news

A trade deal may take years to formulate, and allowing companies and even people to adapt to the new reality will take time. That’s why the two-year transition that May seeks is key — businesses want to know how long they have to plan for the future, whether that means relocation or continued investments.

May’s Conservative administration is fiercely divided over Brexit — her Cabinet has yet to decide what kind of trading arrangements it wants from Europe. Tusk called for clarity on that on Friday.

The second phase will be even more delicate and important than the first. The two sides are going in with widely different expectations; the EU unity that was on display in the first phase could now splinter as interests diverge; and trade deals don’t usually cover the service industries that make up most of the U.K. economy.

Deal Confirmed! Ireland supports Brexit negotiations moving to Phase 2 now that we have secured assurances for all on the island of Ireland – fully protecting GFA, peace process, all-Island economy and ensuring that there can be NO HARD BORDER on the Island of Ireland post Brexit

Britons will also be watching to see if talks live up to what was promised: they were told that Brexit would mean free trade deals with Europe and the rest of the world, controls on European immigration and the repatriation of regulation.

Now for the Real Fight: Why the Brexit Bill Is the Easy Part

May has said she wants a deep and special partnership and a better deal than the free-trade agreement that Canada secured from the EU. But ministers will have to decide what they are willing to sacrifice in order to get what they want and the answer will vary from one faction to another within government and within the Tory Party.

The EU has already started mapping out what it intends to put on the table — a deal along the lines of the one it offered Canada. That deal was the best in its class but still far short of what the U.K. currently enjoys as a full member of the single market and customs union.

May has got the deal that she needed — and the agreement that businesses were clamoring for. Amid off-and-on threats to oust her, failure to move talks along could have cost May her job, and brought more instability.

Today is a big step forward in delivering Brexit. Been a lot of work but glad the Commission have now recommended that sufficient progress has been reached. 

Irish Problem

Pro-Brexit Conservatives including Environment Secretary Michael Gove were initially supportive of the deal. But lawmakers have objected to the role given to the European Court of Justice in the U.K. after Brexit. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson — a leading Brexit campaigner — voiced concerns to May earlier this week when it looked like she was aiming for to preserve EU rules after the divorce.

Also, no one should expect the Irish problem — whose roots go back centuries — to go away. The wording of the Irish text leaves room for the border issue to continue rearing its head in the second phase of talks. The Republic of Ireland wants no border on the island, the U.K. wants to leave the single market that makes the almost invisible border possible, and the Democratic Unionist Party that props up May in London is adamant that any efforts to prevent a border on the island don’t create the need for a boundary between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.

— With assistance by Alex Morales, Tim Ross, Dara Doyle, Marine Strauss, and Jones Hayden

May heads to Brussels for last-ditch talks on Brexit deal

December 8, 2017


© Tolga Akmen, AFP | Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May reacts as she prepares to greet Spain’s Prime Minister outside 10 Downing Street in central London on December 5, 2017


Latest update : 2017-12-08

British Prime Minister Theresa May made an early-morning dash to Brussels on Friday for crucial talks with EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker to seal a deal on Brexit divorce terms.

May is returning just four days after her last talks with Juncker were scuppered when her government’s Northern Irish allies objected to plans for the future of the border with EU member Ireland.

Negotiators worked through the night to reach a deal before a Sunday deadline for Britain to finalise its divorce terms from the EU, ahead of a December 14-15 leaders’ summit that will unlock negotiations on a future trade deal.

May’s Downing Street office confirmed that she was coming to Brussels with her Brexit minister David Davis to meet Juncker and chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

The European Commission confirmed the pair were to meet around 0600 GMT at the organisation’s headquarters with a press conference shortly afterwards.

Talks went on through the night, with the Commission saying late Thursday there had been “progress but not fully there yet”.

European Council President Donald Tusk was also set to make a statement giving a “situational update” on Brexit at 0650 GMT on Friday, before heading to Hungary, adding to the fevered speculation about a deal.

Juncker spoke first with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar then May on Thursday night in a bid to break a deadlock over the wording of a deal on future arrangements for the Irish border.

– ‘Not there yet’ –

The EU insists on making sufficient progress on the Irish border, on Britain’s divorce bill, and on the rights of European citizens in Britain before unlocking the second phase of negotiations.

Those would deal with a transition period for around two years after Britain leaves the bloc on March 29, 2019, and a future EU-UK trade deal.

But talks between May and Juncker in Brussels on Monday broke up without a deal after the pro-British DUP party in Northern Ireland that props up the British leader’s government objected to a clause in the deal.

The wording had said that British-ruled Northern Ireland would be in “alignment” with EU rules to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, as Dublin insists.

Brexit talks: why the UK-Irish border is so contentious

DUP chief whip Jeffrey Donaldson had said late Thursday that “discussions are ongoing”.

The European Commission had earlier Thursday set a deadline of Sunday for May to reach a deal on divorce terms so they can be approved by member states in time for the summit.

– ‘Totally and utterly incompetent’ –


Earlier Thursday, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas dismissed British newspaper reports that the Sunday deadline could be extended into next week as “not correct”.

Scotland’s nationalist leader showed little patience, accusing the British government of being “totally and utterly incompetent” on Brexit.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said “the real lesson” of the past week was that Scotland “will always be at the mercy of reckless decisions taken by Tory governments at Westminster” unless it becomes independent.

“The sooner we are in control over our own future here in Scotland the better, and this week has proved it,” she added.

Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem offered some calming words, saying Britain’s City of London financial hub “will not fall apart” after Brexit even if it loses the right to allow banks to trade freely across the bloc.

Dijsselbloem, the Netherlands finance minister who chairs meetings of his counterparts in the 19-country eurozone, said that some businesses would nevertheless have to relocate.

“I don’t believe that the City will fall apart and that everyone will flee. I don’t think that’s how it’s going to work,” he told a European Parliament committee.

His reassurances come at a time when Britain’s finance sector is anxious about losing the “passporting” rights which allow large international banks to trade throughout the EU while being based in Britain.


UK government still undecided on final Brexit aims: Hammond

December 6, 2017

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LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s government has not yet decided what it wants from a final Brexit deal because it is still waiting to clear preliminary talks with Brussels, finance minister Philip Hammond said on Wednesday.

With the clock ticking towards Britain’s scheduled March 2019 exit from the European union, the government is focused at the moment on getting a green light for the negotiations on future trade relations with the EU, Hammond said.

“The cabinet has had general discussions about our Brexit negotiations but we haven’t had a specific mandating of an end-state position,” he told lawmakers in Britain’s parliament.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s top ministers have big differences over what Brexit should mean for Britain, and over the extent of concessions that the country should offer in return for preferential access to the EU’s single market.

Hammond said a group of key government ministers would deal with the issue once Britain is given the go-ahead by other EU countries that it can proceed with negotiations for a new, post-Brexit trade deal.

That go-ahead is on hold pending an agreement by the bloc’s other 27 member states that Britain has done enough on the terms of its divorce, now stuck on differences over how open the future border between Ireland and Northern Ireland should be.

“We are not yet at that stage and it would have been premature to have that discussion until we reach that stage,” Hammond told parliament’s Treasury Committee.

A spokesman for May, asked about Hammond’s comments, told reporters that government ministers would discuss the preferred outcome of the Brexit talks before the end of the year.

“We’re not into phase two (of negotiations) yet, and Brussels have been clear that they’re not prepared to discuss ‘end state’,” the spokesman said.

Earlier on Wednesday Brexit minister David Davis inflamed critics of the government’s handling of Brexit when he said he had not conducted formal sector-by-sector analyses of the effect of Brexit on the economy, arguing they were not yet necessary.

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David Davis (left) and Michel Barnier at a news conference in Brussels

Hammond has previously said he favors striking a “pragmatic” deal with the EU to minimize Brexit’s impact on businesses and the economy, angering some Brexit supporters who favor a more definitive rupture with Brussels.

On Wednesday, Hammond reiterated that Britain would leave the EU’s single market and its customs union but that need not represent a big change to Britain’s relationship with the bloc, if Britain replicates most of the current arrangements.

“Now, that would have consequences and some of our colleagues would not find that palatable, but it would be logically possible to approach it in that way,” he said.

May hopes to secure the launch of the second phase of the Brexit negotiations when she meets other EU leaders next week. But she suffered a setback this week when her allies in a political party from Northern Ireland objected to proposals for post-Brexit rules for the border with Ireland.

The Democratic Unionist Party said on Wednesday the stand-off increased the likelihood of a “no deal” Brexit – the nightmare scenario for many British businesses.

Additional reporting by William James, writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Mark Heinrich

Theresa May’s Chances of Brexit Deal Recede as Allies Play Hard Ball

December 6, 2017


By Emma Ross-Thomas and Dara Doyle

 Updated on 
  • Northern Irish party balks at accord and ministers rebel
  • Brexit secretary says numbers weren’t crunched on trade impact
 Image result for Theresa may, wind blown, photos
May challenged by cabinet disquiet and the Irish border question. Bloomberg’s David Merritt reports.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s chances of getting a Brexit breakthrough this week receded as the Northern Irish ally that props up her government continued to resist a deal amid rumblings of a Cabinet rebellion.

The Democratic Unionist Party thinks it will be challenging to get a deal done this week as it’s demanding significant changes to a text on what the Irish border should look like after Brexit, according to a person familiar with the party’s thinking. That risks pushing May beyond the deadline set by the European Union if it wants divorce talks to move on to trade by year-end.

May’s proposed solution to the impasse — staying close to EU rules after the split — prompted a revolt this week as the highest-profile Brexit-backers, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Environment Secretary Michael Gove, said the clean break they want from Europe could be endangered.

 Image result for Michael Gove, photos

Michael Gove

The beleaguered prime minister has just three days to come up with proposals that will satisfy the EU. If there’s no deal this month the chances of a messy Brexit increase and hardliners in the U.K. will step up their calls to walk away — what businesses have called a catastrophe scenario.

May and DUP leader Arlene Foster spoke this morning for two hours, a conversation a U.K. official described as constructive. In her first appearance in Parliament since the breakdown of talks on Monday, May expressed confidence that a deal will be done.

‘Good Progress’

“Negotiations are in progress and very good progress has been made in those negotiations,” the premier told lawmakers in Parliament on Wednesday. As European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Monday, “there are still a couple of things that we are negotiating on and he is confident that we will be able to achieve sufficient progress.”

Lawmakers in May’s Conservative Party who support full separation from the EU attempted to put pressure on the prime minister during her weekly questions session. Peter Bone offered to accompany her to Brussels for the next round of negotiations, Jacob Rees-Mogg asked her if her “red lines” were fading to pink, and Bernard Jenkin urged her to focus on free trade deals beyond Europe. While all were polite, all were reminding May that she faces a revolt if she’s seen to be softening her position.

Thorny Topic

The Irish border is one of the most sensitive issues holding back Brexit talks — for historic, political and economic reasons. The border now is almost invisible as both countries are in Europe’s single market, but the U.K. plans to leave the trading bloc in 2019, taking Northern Ireland with it. That means a border will be needed somewhere — either between Ireland and Northern Ireland or between the enclave and mainland Britain.

“We will ensure that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland,” May said. “We will do that while we respect the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and while we respect the internal market and protect the internal market of the United Kingdom.”

As May tries to stitch together a united front that will allow her to go back to Brussels, Brexit Secretary David Davis was under fire in parliament.

He was accused of changing his lines on the existence of a series of documents on the impact of Brexit on the economy. After weeks of to-ing and fro-ing about the paperwork and whether they should be made public, Davis was accused of backtracking. Davis put the whole saga down to a misunderstanding.

As cabinet intrigue threatened to derail the negotiation process, Davis also offered some insight into how the government made its decisions on Brexit. The decision to leave the customs union — the bloc that frees up trade within the EU and reduces barriers — was taken without a “quantitative” economic assessment, he said.

— With assistance by Alex Morales, Kitty Donaldson, and Robert Hutton