Posts Tagged ‘David Davis’

Theresa May unveils her ‘Road Map for Brexit’

February 11, 2018
THERESA MAY sets out her “road map” for Brexit today amid growing pressure from backbenchers not to cave in to the bullying demands of Brussels.

Pledging to make the UK a “truly global, free-trading nation”, the Prime Minister will spearhead a series of keynote speeches in the coming weeks to underline her positive vision for a post-Brexit Britain.

The fightback comes as around 100 Eurosceptic Tory MPs, led by “Brexiteer-in-chief” Jacob Rees-Mogg, are preparing to step up the pressure on Mrs May to honour the 12-point plan she laid out in her original landmark Lancaster House speech on Brexit.

The group is understood to be in talks over sending Mrs May a letter calling for Britain to break all ties with Brussels once we leave on March 29, 2019.

It comes after the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier last week warned there will be no transition at all unless we bow to Brussels rules during the two-year implementation period. His outburst infuriated Downing Street, with one Cabinet minister calling them “the usual intimidation tactics the EU Commission is famous for”.

A member of the influential European Research Group said: “The greater noise being made by the Eurosceptics is bringing the Government back on track. The wind is blowing back in the direction of the Brexiteers but we’ve got to keep the pressure up and not let Mr Barnier get away with his unreasonable demands.”

Theresa May roadmap to BrexitGETTY

With an aim to make the UK a ‘truly global’ nation, Mrs May will reveal her main Brexit strategy

We will be forging an ambitious new partnership with Europe and charting our own way in the world to become a truly global, free-trading nation

Downing Street source

After weeks of Cabinet squabbles over the UK’s preferred “end state”, five key ministers are lined up to throw their weight behind Mrs May in a coordinated series of speeches laying out the way ahead.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will kick off the offensive on Wednesday with a rallying call to those on both sides of the Brexit debate to back the Prime Minister.

Called Road to Brexit: A United Kingdom, his speech is expected to be a “gentler and more consensual” version of the bombastic 4,000-word Brexit essay which overshadowed Mrs May’s Florence address last September.

Mrs May will then address the Munich Security Conference in Germany on Saturday, detailing the new security relationship Britain will seek with the EU after leaving the bloc.

Over the following week there will be three more speeches by Brexit Secretary David Davis, de factor deputy prime minister David Lidington, and International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox.

Theresa May keynoteGETTY

Theresa May is set to outline her positive view for Brexit in coming speeches

A Downing Street source said: “Brexit is a defining moment in the history of our nation. We will be forging an ambitious new partnership with Europe and charting our own way in the world to become a truly global, free-trading nation.

“As we move along the road to that future, we will set out more detail so people can see how this new relationship will benefit communities in every part of our country.”

Mr Davis will outline how Britain’s businesses will maintain their reputation for high standards across the world, while Mr Lidington, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, will talk about devolution.

Dr Fox will detail how Britain will forge new trade deals across the world, in a swipe at Remainers who have been lobbying to keep Britain in the EU’s customs union.

Chancellor Philip Hammond was accused of contradicting Government policy last month when he refused to rule out the UK leaving the union – even though Downing Street has been “unequivocal” on the issue.

Rees Mogg pressureGETTY

The news comes as Jacob Rees Mogg and his backers get set to pile pressure on to Mrs May

It is telling that Mr Hammond has not been asked to make a speech at such a critical stage in the Brexit negotiations.

After Mrs May secured a phase one agreement before Christmas, the second stage of the talks aims to thrash out the details of a future trade deal between the UK and the EU, as well as agree the transition arrangements for the two-year implementation period.

Last Wednesday and Thursday, a Brexit “war cabinet” consisting of 10 key ministers failed to come to an agreement on the kind of future relationship Britain is seeking with Brussels.

Brexiteers Mr Johnson, Mr Davis and Dr Fox are all seeking divergence from the bloc while Remainers Mr Hammond, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Business Secretary Greg Clark want the UK to remain as closely aligned as possible with our European neighbours.

Downing Street last night confirmed reports that Mrs May will send her cabinet on an “away day” to Chequers to try to reach a consensus.

It comes after Mr Davis last week accused Mr Barnier of being “discourteous” after a leaked EU paper suggested Britain should have its access to the single market blocked in the event of a dispute during the transition phase.

He also sparked anger over his warning that checks would be “unavoidable” at the Northern Irish border once we leave, despite having previously been accused of trying to “weaponise” the peace process.

Mr Davis described the draft section of the withdrawal agreement that leaked out on Wednesday as “hardly a legal document, it was a political document”, adding: “What we’re about is building an implementation period which is to build a bridge to a future where we work well together.

“I do not think it was in good faith to publish a document with frankly discourteous language and implying that they could arbitrarily terminate in effect the implementation period.

David DavisGETTY

David Davis inspired fury after saying checks at the Northern Ireland border would be ‘unavoidable’

“That’s not what the aim of this exercise is.”

The implementation period is expected to begin straight after Brexit Day next March and end on December 31, 2020.

The UK says this will allow businesses to adapt to its new relationship with the EU.

The EU says its rules should still apply during the entire period, as will rulings of the European Court of Justice – something Brexiteers are calling on the Government to resist, fearing the UK will have to be subject to Brussels diktats for two years without having any say over them.

Mr Rees-Mogg has said such an agreement would turn Britain into a “vassal state” and amount to “Brino” (Brexit In Name Only), which is not what 17.4 million Leavers voted for.

A You Gov poll last week found that such a “soft Brexit” was popular with only eight per cent of the population, with 43 per cent preferring to go “full speed ahead” with Brexit.Eurosceptics argue that if the EU cannot reach agreement with the UK over the implementation period or a trade deal then we must withdraw our offer of paying £39billion into Brussels coffers.

Mrs May has always insisted that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” and is standing by her assertion that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”


David Davis accuses Michel Barnier of wanting to ‘have it both ways’ in Brexit talks as their spat continues

February 10, 2018

The Telegraph


Image may contain: 1 person, suit

David Davis’s spat with his Brussels counterpart Michel Barnier has intensified as he accused the EU’s chief negotiator of wanting to “have it both ways” in Brexit talks.

The Brexit Secretary said there was a “fundamental contradiction” in the approach being taken by Mr Barnier in negotiations and expressed “surprise” that Mr Barnier claimed not to understand the UK’s position.

Meanwhile Mr Barnier said Mr Davis had been wrong to accuse him of being “discourteous” by inserting a so-called punishment clause into the EU’s terms for the transition period that would allow Brussels to ground aircraft and block trade if the UK failed to obey EU rules.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, suit

 David Davis with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, June 2017. Photograph by Stephanie Lecocq – EPA

At the end of the latest round of talks in Brussels, Mr Barnier held a press conference at which he said a transition period was “not a given” if Britain did not sign up to the EU’s terms and suggested a hard border in Northern Ireland was “unavoidable”…

Read the rest:

Michel Barnier ruthlessly exploited David Davis’ weak spot while updating us on the Brexit negotiations

This is the bad-mouthing stage of the fight, when prize fighters insult each other at the weigh-in to try to intimidate each other. To be fair to Barnier, and although this is a bit ‘school playground’, David Davis did start it

By John Rentoul
The Independent

Michel Barnier is a good negotiator. He knows his opposite number’s weak spot. So he went for it today, ruthlessly. “I am not going to comment on domestic politics in the UK,” he said, before going on to comment on domestic politics in the UK.

He did this indirectly, by saying, more than once, that he didn’t understand the UK’s position. After Theresa May’s Brexit war cabinet had met twice this week without agreement except to meet again at Chequers later, he was joining a vocal chorus of Remainer criticism that the UK Government doesn’t know what it wants.

That is not really true. The Prime Minister has been very clear about what she wants. What Barnier means is that the EU is not prepared to give it to her. Therefore, he says, it is up to her to come up with something else that the EU would let her have. “The time has come to make choices, and we await with great interest the choices,” he said.

 Image result for Michel Barnier, photos

And he has already said what the choices are. Either the UK must accept all the EU’s laws, or it can have nothing. The EU had generously agreed to a transition period, he implied – “It is the UK that asked for this period” – during which all EU law must apply. But if Theresa May, David Davis and the UK Government didn’t like it, then even that concession would be withdrawn.

This is the bad-mouthing stage of the fight, when prize fighters insult each other at the weigh-in to try to intimidate each other. To be fair to Barnier, and although this is a bit “school playground”, David Davis did start it. The Brexit Secretary’s outburst yesterday seemed designed to irritate the EU side: “I do not think it was in good faith to publish a document with frankly discourteous language and actually implying that they could arbitrarily terminate in effect the implementation period.”

Both sides are engaged in a negotiation, so you would expect them to set out the toughest version of their starting positions, but Davis’s language seemed quite pointlessly inflammatory. Contrary to his reputation, I am told that some of the officials who have worked closely with him respect him as a “a good 1950s-style politician”, not much into detail but good at making decisions.

Yet yesterday’s words seemed counter-productive. They allowed Barnier today to claim the high ground: “I’m not going to discuss David’s comment. It would not be useful. I’m not aggressive or vindictive and am not trying to punish anyone. I shall remain calm to the very end.”

Instead, he set out some of the most difficult problems that still have to be solved – such as the 750 international agreements on which third countries “will have their say” – and said: “Time is short.”

If this weren’t alarming enough, listen to what one member of the Brexit inner cabinet told James Forsyth of The Spectator: Brexit policy-making “looks worse from the inside than the outside”. Given how bad it looks from the outside, this is not reassuring.

On the other hand, it is possible that Barnier’s tough talk and May’s apparent indecision could be the prelude to compromise. It remains in the interests of both sides to do a deal, and many of the leaders of EU27 countries disagree with Barnier’s take-it-or-leave-it position.

Equally, May’s extended Cabinet discussions have given Boris Johnson and Michael Gove time to come up with their negotiating position and they still haven’t done so. Maybe Johnson will do it in his speech next week, but he is usually better at bluster than policy. In the end, May has a better chance of doing a deal than Johnson or Gove, and has broader support in the House of Commons.

Barnier’s hard line will also make any concessions that May is able to secure seem more significant. The more Barnier insisted that Britain must accept all the EU’s laws or be out in the cold, outside the single market and customs union, the more it seemed a third way could be found to keep Britain closely aligned with the single market.

But Barnier is right to say there isn’t much time to find it.

EU’s Barnier says no update from Britain on Brexit

February 9, 2018


BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said on Friday that he had received no update from London on what sort of relation it wanted with the bloc after Brexit.

 Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, suit

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, poses for a picture with British team member David Davis. Reuters photo

The lack of an update stemmed from scheduling constraints on the British side, he said.

Banier added that any British withdrawal from the EU and customs union would make border checks inevitable but that there should be no ambiguity in whatever deal is struck on the Irish border.

Britain has ruled out staying in any customs union with the EU after Brexit, but the nature of its trading relationship with the world’s biggest trading bloc has split Theresa May’s government and Conservative Party.

Reporting by Phil Blenkinsop; Editing by Alissa de Carbonnel @AdeCar

Britain Finds 37 EU Rules That Must Be Obeyed in Brexit Transition Period

February 6, 2018

  • Leaked paper warns 37 EU directives could be passed during transition period
  • Laws cover issues ranging from recycling targets to insuring mobility scooters 
  • EU insists the UK must obey laws during the period without a say in setting them 

Dozens of EU laws could be imposed on Britain during a two-year transition period after Brexit, it was claimed today.

A leaked Whitehall document revealed the UK could be forced to accept 37 controversial EU directives.

One of the rulings could make people take out insurance for all off-road vehicles including tractors, golf buggies and mobility scooters.

Another could see all households forced to have four bins to hit ‘unfeasible’ EU recycling targets, according to the report seen by the Daily Telegraph.

On a visit to Downing Street yesterday (Pictured), the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier insisted Britain must 'play by the rules' to obtain a transition deal

On a visit to Downing Street yesterday (Pictured), the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier insisted Britain must ‘play by the rules’ to obtain a transition deal

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured addressing journalism students in London yesterday) said the government must 'be strong' in rejecting new EU laws

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured addressing journalism students in London yesterday) said the government must ‘be strong’ in rejecting new EU laws

The UK could also be bound by energy efficiency targets for up to a decade after Brexit, it warned.

Ministers have played down the prospect of laws being passed during the transition period, saying EU processes typically take longer than that.

But the leak will fuel tensions over the UK’s lack of control during the mooted transition period.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier reiterated the bloc’s hard line on the issue yesterday, saying that Britain must ‘play by the rules’ to obtain a deal.

However, MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said changes ‘The range and extent of these laws covers almost everyone in the country one way or another and we would have no say at all over some laws that we could now veto.

The chance for a vengeful EU to cause regulatory damage to us may be too great for them to resist.

‘The Government needs to be strong in refusing to accept new laws once we have left.’

Theresa May is already gearing up for a battle with Brussels over free movement rules during the transition.

Ministers have complained that the demand goes beyond what was agreed at the December summit but senior EU figures – including the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt – insist it is ‘not negotiable’.

Theresa May pictured in Downing Street yesterday

Brexit Secretary David Davis

Theresa May and David Davis (pictured in Downing Street yesterday) are resisting Brussels attempts to extend full free movements rights into the transition period

Meanwhile, the PM has rejected Treasury plans to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU in the medium term – despite Brussels saying it will make new trade barriers ‘unavoidable’.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has been privately pushing for parts of the economy to stay in the customs union until Britain has struck trade deals with nations such as the US, China and Japan, which could take many years.

The Treasury, backed by Business Secretary Greg Clark, believed it was winning this argument within government.

But Whitehall sources said the PM had rejected the idea and was committed to making a clean break once the Brexit transition period ends in 2021.

A source said: ‘I don’t doubt this idea is being discussed somewhere in Whitehall, but it is not being discussed in Downing Street. We are leaving the customs union and we are not rejoining it.’

Read more:
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

See also The Telegraph:

Leaked: The 37 EU rules Britain could be forced to accept during Brexit transition

Brexit talks to resume next week as uncertainty continues

February 2, 2018


© AFP/File / by Dario THUBURN | Britain has said it wants to leave the European single market and customs union and retain strong economic ties with the EU after Brexit

LONDON (AFP) – The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator will hold talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London on Monday as the two sides resume negotiations on post-Brexit ties in a climate of deep uncertainty.”The Prime Minister will welcome Michel Barnier to Downing Street on Monday,” read a tweet on the official Downing Street account on Friday.

Barnier and the UK’s Brexit Minister David Davis “will discuss the upcoming negotiations on the implementation period and the next steps in building a new partnership between the EU and the UK,” it said.

The European Commission said there would also be negotiations between British and EU officials in Brussels from Tuesday to Friday and these would include a “UK update on the future relationship”.

Britain has said it wants to leave the European single market and customs union and retain strong economic ties with the EU but has given little detail.

Downing Street on Friday rejected a Financial Times report that ministers are privately considering a customs union deal for post-Brexit trade.

In an interview in Shanghai with Bloomberg TV, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox also ruled this out saying: “We have to be outside of that to take advantage of those growing markets.”

“One of the reasons we are leaving the European Union is to take control and that’s not possible with a common external tariff.”

– Brexit ‘isn’t deliverable’ –

Britain voted to leave the European Union in a momentous referendum in June 2016 that bitterly divided the nation, sparked tumultuous period in British politics and caused global shockwaves.

London and Brussels struck a preliminary deal on key Brexit issues in December but are yet to discuss the conditions for a post-Brexit transition period and future trade relations between Britain and the EU.

May has faced growing public calls from across her Conservative party this week to set out her vision for Brexit more clearly, amid media reports of increasing discontent with her leadership.

Tensions were fuelled by a leaked internal government assessment earlier this week suggesting that the options on the table so far for a trade deal with the EU would all leave Britain worse off.

The prime minister also sparked concern in Brussels by questioning the rights of EU citizens who arrive in Britain during the post-Brexit transition period.

May insisted Friday she was “doing what the British people want” and going nowhere despite the pressure.

In a BBC interview at the end of a three-day trip to China, May declined to detail exactly what she wants from negotiations on future ties.

Asked whether she would favour a deal that limited disruption to trade, or one that emphasised Britain’s power to forge its own path, she said: “These are not the options we have before us.

“The option that we have before us is to go in there with the EU and negotiate a good trade deal.

“What the British people voted for is for us to take back control of our money, our borders and our laws and that’s exactly what we are going to do.”

Sensing a lack of coordination in government on Brexit, pro-EU politicians have become increasingly vociferous in Britain in recent days.

Labour MP Chuka Umunna, head of a new coalition of pro-EU groups formed this week, told AFP on Friday that the government was “trying to deliver something that isn’t deliverable.”

“If the people started this in 2016, they should be the ones who decide how we end it, and whether or not we do actually leave,” Umunna told AFP while out campaigning in Brixton in south London.

by Dario THUBURN

All the economic forecasts were wrong on Brexit, Britain’s Brexit minister says

February 2, 2018
LONDON – Reuters

All the economic forecasts were wrong on Brexit, Britain’s Brexit minister says

Brexit minister David Davis on Feb. 1 rekindled a debate about the credibility of the government’s own forecasts by saying that every economic forecast made about the performance of the British economy after the referendum has been wrong.

“Every forecasting model on the performance on the British economy after the referendum by every major organization, the banks, the government organizations and, indeed, intentional organizations has proven wrong,” Davis said in parliament.

“One of the ways it has been proven wrong is because employment in this country has grown despite the forecasts to record levels today. We will be seeking to do the best we can to ensure that grow record is maintained.”

Meanwhile, British manufacturing lost some of its recent strong momentum last month as factories were held back by overall weakness in the economy in the run-up to Brexit, a survey showed on Feb. 1.

The IHS Markit/CIPS manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) dropped to 55.3 in January, its lowest since June 2017, though still well above its long-run average of 51.7.

If sustained, that performance would lead to quarterly growth of 0.6 percent for the sector — better than the broader economy but only half the rate of the final three months of 2017.

The survey also showed one of the biggest jumps in the cost of raw materials in decades.

Manufacturing has been a bright spot in an otherwise sluggish British economy since the Brexit vote in 2016.

Exporters have been helped by last year’s global economic recovery, which is expected to carry on in 2018.

BrexitUKEnglandeconomyrecoveryDavis Davis


Brexit Bulletin: Open Warfare — The pressure is growing to tell Europe what the U.K. wants from Brexit — shows just how unreconcilable the differences are within the governing party

January 29, 2018

“At the moment there’s no clear destination, either in the government’s mind or indeed agreed with the European Union…” Cabinet infighting spilling out in to the open…


By Emma Ross-Thomas

  • Euroskeptics want Philip Hammond fired for his Brexit stance
  • Brexit legislation faces new battle in the House of Lords
 Image result for Theresa May, philip hammond, photos
TheCityUK CEO Says Need Brexit Transition as Soon as Possible

The pressure is growing to tell Europe what the U.K. wants from Brexit, and it’s revealing just how unreconcilable the differences are within the governing party. Prime Minister Theresa May’s job is on the line, as is that of her chancellor, Philip Hammond.

By March, May needs to tell the European Union how her government sees a future relationship with its largest trading partner. And this week or next talks will start on the transition, the period of two years after Brexit. That’s why the Conservative Party is now in open warfare; the window to influence what Brexit will mean is closing. Euroskeptics fear a sellout amid signs the “soft” Brexit camp led by Hammond is winning the arguments, and the government has made a series of gestures that suggest it’s trying to show hardliners it’s at least listening.

Pro-Brexit Tories led by potential leadership candidate Jacob Rees-Mogg have made plain that they want Hammond to be fired. It’s worth remembering what Rees-Mogg stands for: He wants a clean break with the EU and its rules and indicated last week that he’d rather walk away from the bloc than abide by the transition period that businesses are crying out for.

.@Jacob_Rees_Mogg responds to the current government position on transition: “At the moment there’s no clear destination, either in the government’s mind or indeed agreed with the European Union. One friend of mine said it’s more like a plank than a bridge.”

May, who will be in China for part of this week, is fighting to keep her job amid reports that lawmakers are frustrated by a lack of leadership. But the rebels are still too few in number to trigger a vote of no confidence, and she could well survive such a ballot. It’s not clear that the dynamics that have kept her in an impossible job since the botched election have changed significantly enough for her to be ousted.

Her woes will get worse this week with or without a leadership challenge. Her key Brexit legislation heads to the House of Lords, where peers are preparing to re-write it. Those changes seem likely to enrage the euroskeptics and make the gap between the warring factions deeper still.

Brexit Latest

French Poaching | French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told Japanese business leaders France would welcome companies that need to relocate from the U.K. because of Brexit. “First of all, the presence of the U.K. in the EU is finished,” he said in Tokyo. “Japanese companies must become aware of the consequences.”

Bankers Grim | Sentiment among London’s Brexit-hit bankers sank to its gloomiest depths since the 2008 financial crisis, a survey showed – a stark contrast to the bullish tone of finance executives gathered last week in Davos, Switzerland. Almost a third of firms think financial-market conditions will worsen in the next six months, according to the Confederation of British Industry poll.

Speech ‘Canceled’ | May has scrapped plans to give a third landmark Brexit speech because of the risk of cabinet infighting spilling out in to the open, The Times reported. However, May’s office said no such speech had ever been planned.

Swivel-Eyed Old Men | In a sign of the depth of division within the government, the Telegraph reports that energy minister Claire Perry described euroskeptic Tories as “mostly elderly retired men” who represent the “swivel-eyed few.” She made the comments in a WhatsApp message to colleagues in the aftermath of the December Brexit deal, which some euroskeptics criticized as a sellout. Perry said there are “no excuses” for her comments, but that they were aimed only at those who were calling her government colleagues “traitors.”

Secret Impact Papers | Cabinet members will be shown government impact assessments of the various Brexit options in one-to-one meetings with officials this week, The Times reports. At the end of the meetings, the papers will be collected to avoid leaks of the sensitive analyses.

Transition Threat | Officials fear a battle over accepting rules could delay a transition deal, the Financial Times reports. That comes after Brexit Secretary David Davis said on Friday the U.K. would have to find a way to avoid laws being brought in during the transition that would “run contrary to our interests and in which we have not had our say.”

Blackouts Coming? | Britain probably will risk more energy supply shortages after leaving the EU, a panel of lawmakers from the House of Lords said, as the exit will likely lead to a less efficient energy trade and higher prices.

And the Winners Are… | Lawyers and accountants are enjoying a Brexit boon, according to the Office of National Statistics. The business services sector, which includes lawyers and recruiters, as well as architects and travel agents, helped services expand 0.6 percent between October and December – the strongest performance in a year.

On the Markets | The pound’s winning streak means it could be vulnerable this week, Charlotte Ryan reports. Sterling has gained more than 5 percent this month, hitting a post-Brexit vote high above $1.43 last Thursday, and the test now is whether it can stay at these levels. Industrial data, political news and testimony from Bank of England Governor Mark Carney all have the potential to hurt confidence in the pound, according to strategists.

Coming Up | Davis will take questions from the House of Lords EU committee at 2:35 p.m. on Monday. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier gives a news conference at 3:30 p.m. London time after the General Affairs Council, where the bloc will formally agree its approach to the transition.

And Finally…

What would Donald do? The U.S. president had some words of advice for May this weekend on how he would be negotiating Brexit.

“Would it be the way I’d negotiate? No,” he said in an interview with ITV, referring to May’s approach to the talks. “I would have said that the European Union is not cracked up to what it’s supposed to be, and I would have taken a tougher stand in getting out.”

May and Trump in Davos on Jan. 25.
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

For more on Brexit follow Bloomberg on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

David Davis demands UK say on EU rules during Brexit transition

January 28, 2018
Secretary of State for Exiting the EU David Davis takes a trip along the River Tees after he delivered a speech during a visit to PD Ports at Teesport on January 26, 2018 in Teesside, England | Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

The Brexit secretary set out the UK’s negotiating position on a transition deal in a major speech Friday.

MIDDLESBROUGH, England — The U.K. has conceded a lot to get the transition deal it sorely needs, but it has not given up asking for something in return — a voice at the EU table.

In a key speech on the British government’s vision for a transition period, Brexit Secretary David Davis said his negotiators would be seeking “a way of resolving concerns” if the EU were to change its rules to the detriment of the U.K. during the transition. During that period the U.K. — having ceded its seat at the European Council, its MEPs and its role in the Commission — will have no formal way to influence the EU legislation it will remain subject to.

While admitting that time is of the essence in agreeing a transition — both sides ideally want it sorted by the European Council summit in late March — Davis knows that he has little leverage over the EU27. The U.K. needs a transition deal more than they do — a fact underlined by an open letter signed by Davis and two other Cabinet ministers that is designed to reassure businesses who are increasingly worried about a lack of regulatory and legal certainty post Brexit.

“This will be a relationship where respect flows both ways”

— Brexit Secretary David Davis

And in any case, delivering what Davis wants will require some imaginative thinking. No such mechanism currently exists. Nor is it signaled in any of the leaked draft versions of the EU’s negotiating directives for the transition talks — a fact that has not gone unnoticed by the U.K., and was a significant factor behind their decision to set out the request ahead of those directives being finalized by the EU27 on Monday, individuals familiar with the matter said.

“This will be a relationship where respect flows both ways,” Davis said, speaking to an audience of business leaders summoned to a port warehouse in the northast town of Middlesbrough on Friday. “And it’s in that spirit we should approach the implementation period as the bridge to this new relationship,” he added.

Insurance policy

The dispute resolution mechanism imagined by Davis is one aspect of what looks like a three-tiered insurance policy by which the U.K. wants to protect itself against any EU rule changes that might harm its interests during the transition. What these might be is not explicit. Any alteration to financial services regulation that harms the City of London features heavily in British nightmares, however.

The first tier of the policy is trust. Davis called for an agreement that included “each side committing to not taking any action that undermines the other.” How enforceable such a commitment would be is debatable.

The second is practical reality. “It usually takes around two full years for major legislation to make its way through the EU system into law,” Davis said. So anything coming into effect during the transition, the U.K. would have a say in anyway.

It’s the third and final tier of the insurance policy that could be complicated. Notwithstanding the two previous guarantees, Davis said, “we will have to agree a way of resolving concerns if laws are deemed to run contrary to our interests and we have not had our say, and we will agree an appropriate process for this temporary period.”

To Brussels ears, highly attuned to the gentle rustle of cherries being picked, that might sound suspicious. For the EU27, not being in the EU means losing your say. Just ask Norway.

Much will depend on the detail of what the U.K. asks for — something Davis left unspecified. If it looks too much like membership, they can probably go whistle. But having agreed to accept all EU rules, and by continuing to pay their financial obligations to the EU, the U.K.’s negotiators may have bought a degree of goodwill to achieve something more limited. Time will tell.

Playing to the gallery

In truth, Davis’ pitch was as much aimed at a domestic audience as it was at Brussels.

It was only on Wednesday that he endured a needling inquisition about the transition period from Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg at the House of Commons’ exiting the EU committee.

Rees-Mogg, who has quickly emerged as the government’s most dangerous backbench scrutinizer, challenged Davis to explain how — by abiding by the rules, remaining under European Court of Justice jurisdiction and paying into the EU budget, all without any say in governance — the U.K. would be anything other than a “vassal state” for two years or more. Davis said at the same committee hearing that the transition would last “between 21 and 27 months.”

“Vassal state” — or “mini me” to the EU, as Rees-Mogg described it in a Thursday speech — is dangerous language for Davis and Prime Minister Theresa May, whose political authority over restless Brexiteers in their party rests on the idea that Brexit must mean British regulatory, legal and political autonomy.

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg | Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images

It was no surprise then that Davis made clear he also wanted to secure as much independence during the transition as he can. The Brexit secretary called for the U.K. to be able to negotiate and even sign its own free-trade deals with non-EU countries during the transition (although not to implement them).

Davis also reiterated the government’s plan to introduce a registration system for EU citizens coming to live in the U.K. during transition — allowing the government to point to a change in the immigration system that otherwise will mean freedom of movement continuing in all but name for that period. “It will have no bearing on people’s ability to work or visit,” Davis made clear. That too will struggle to win favor among backbench Brexiteers.

Many in government hoped a transition deal would be easy for the U.K. to push through, both domestically and in Brussels. The more we learn about it, the less likely that appears.

UK spells out Brexit transition demands as pressure mounts on May

January 26, 2018


TEESPORT, England (Reuters) – Britain wants to benefit from European Union trade deals and have a say over EU laws passed during its transition out of the bloc, Brexit minister David Davis said on Friday, seeking to defuse tension between senior ministers over the interim deal.

 Image result for David Davis, photos

Britain’s Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis 

Davis set out the government’s position on a transition period, looking to offer something for both those who want to keep close ties with the European Union after leaving and those who want a more radical break.

The balancing act, designed to appease both business and Brexiteers, is a taste of things to come for Prime Minister Theresa May, who has been unable to prevent divisions in her party repeatedly spilling out into the open.

On Thursday, finance minister Philip Hammond was rebuked by May’s office after saying he hoped Britain would diverge from the EU only “very modestly” after Brexit. He spoke hours before the head of a hardline group of Brexiteer lawmakers urged May to stop accepting negotiating terms set by the EU.

“It’s only by being outside the EU but continuing with the existing structures of rules and regulation that we can meet the requirements for a smooth, orderly and successful exit,” Davis said in a speech at Teesport in northeast England.

“The existing international agreements we are party to should continue to apply during this period. They are an important part of the existing EU structure of rules and regulations, to which we will remain a party during the implementation period.”


Davis also said there needed to be some mechanism for Britain to query new laws introduced during the transition period, which it would be duty-bound to follow, and that the future jurisdiction of regulators needed to be clarified.

“We will have to find a way, to agree a way, of resolving concerns if laws that are deemed to run contrary to our interests, and we have not had our say,” he said.

There is little distance between Britain and the EU to overcome to agree the transitional deal, which will give the two sides time to prepare for the far-reaching impact of the end of more than 40 years of union.

Davis said he expected a political agreement on the transition deal at an EU summit on March 22-23 – a target Brussels is also working towards, with plans for fortnightly rounds of negotiations.

The EU is willing to be flexible on the duration and other terms of a Brexit transition period, which could include letting London sign trade deals, according to a document due to be formally endorsed by EU ministers on Monday.

Davis dismissed a question on whether he could really negotiate for Britain if senior members of the cabinet disagreed about what the transition deal should contain:

“There is no difference between the chancellor and myself and indeed the prime minister in terms of that we both want a Brexit which serves the British economy and serves the British people,” he said.

But May, who gambled on a snap election last year that cost her party its majority in parliament, is facing pressure from multiple angles: pro-EU lawmakers, hardline Brexiteers, and another contingent who question her leadership credentials and criticise a “dull dull dull” domestic agenda.


Several newspaper reports have said the number of letters expressing ‘No Confidence’ in the party leader is approaching the threshold of 48 required to trigger a leadership contest. The actual number is not made public by the party committee that holds them.

May is aware that the plan to change little of the current relationship immediately after Britain formally leaves on March 29, 2019, is fuelling anger among Brexit campaigners, who fear their mantra of “taking back control” is being sold out.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, who heads a hardline group of pro-Brexit Conservative lawmakers that could have enough members to topple May, has said Britain must stop accepting negotiating terms set by the EU and that current transition plans would render it a “vassal state”.

The febrile mood in the party is likely to linger; May has had to struggle to keep her lawmakers united over everything from transition to the future relationship to the so-called Brexit dividend – the funds that will be freed up when Britain stops paying into EU coffers.

But Davis said the prospect of an independent trade policy was worth waiting for.

“We must keep sight of the fact that this is a bridge to a new future partnership,” he said.

“… where, crucially, the United Kingdom is outside of the single market, and outside of the customs union; where the United Kingdom courts are sovereign once more; and where the United Kingdom can take advantage of its status as an independent trading nation.”

Additional reporting by William James; Editing by Kevin Liffey

German hostility risks derailing UK plans for Brexit trade deal — Hammond and Davis urge EU to avoid ‘unnecessary barriers’ to trade

January 10, 2018


Britain’s plan for a bespoke Brexit trade deal is at risk of being derailed by German opposition even before negotiations on the EU-UK future relationship begin later this year, the Telegraph can reveal.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is strongly opposed to a British plan for so-called “managed divergence” from the EU after Brexit, with senior EU officials and experts warning that the German leader considers the idea another ruse for Britain to “have its cake and eat it”.

The staunch German opposition to UK thinking on Brexit emerged as Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, and David Davis, the Brexit secretary, were due to arrive in Germany on Wednesday for a joint charm offensive.

The pair will travel to Berlin and Munich respectively to appeal for more pragmatism from Europe as a reward for the UK’s decision to agree to a €45billion Brexit bill last December.

Mr Hammond and Mr Davis will…

Read the rest (Paywall):


Hammond and Davis urge EU to avoid ‘unnecessary barriers’ to trade with UK

Chancellor and Brexit Secretary make a pitch to German business leaders as part of bid for ‘ambitious’ future trade deal

By Lizzy Buchan Political Correspondent

European leaders have been told to avoid creating “unnecessary barriers” to trade between the EU and the UK after Brexit.

Chancellor Philip Hammond and Brexit Secretary David Davis have made a pitch to German business leaders, where they called for a bespoke post-Brexit trade deal with the EU which would be the “most ambitious in the world”.

The Cabinet ministers launched a charm offensive with trips to Germany on Wednesday, which came after EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier told European companies to start preparing for increased “friction” in trade with the UK.

In a joint article for the Frankfurter Allgemeinenewspaper, Mr Hammond and Mr Davis said: “As two of Europe’s biggest economies, it makes no sense to either Germany or Britain to put in place unnecessary barriers to trade in goods and services that would only damage businesses and economic growth on both sides of the Channel.”

German exports to Britain are worth €113bn per year – amounting to a quarter of all EU exports – while trade between the UK and EU 27 is worth €750bn a year.

In the joint article the two Cabinet ministers acknowledged that Germany and other EU members want to protect the integrity of the single market “and that without all the obligations of EU membership third countries cannot have all the benefits”.

But they insisted that “those priorities are not inconsistent with ours, a deep and special partnership with our closest trading partners and allies”.

The Government has made it clear that the UK wants a bespoke trade deal covering both goods and services after Brexit, with the UK leaving the single market and customs union.

Mr Davis has previously told MPs that he wants the deal to deliver the “exact same benefits” that the UK has as a member of the EU.

The pair said negotiators “should not restrict ourselves to models and deals that already exist”, rejecting Brussels’ view that a Canada-style free-trade deal was the only available option for the UK if it leaves the single market.

Both ministers called for financial services to be covered by the new “economic partnership” – despite opposition to this idea from Brussels – and called for a deal that “supports collaboration within the European banking sector, rather than forcing it to fragment”.

In a speech on Tuesday, Mr Barnier said a trade deal could include regulatory co-operation on financial services but he warned that the EU would not be willing to give up protections drawn up in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.