Posts Tagged ‘EU’s single market’

Brexit transition to 2020, trade deal by 2021: EU official

December 18, 2017


© AFP | EU leaders last week signed off on the first stage of Brexit negotiations and talks on a transition period are due to start in January 2018

LONDON (AFP) – Britain could see a post-Brexit transition period run until the end of 2020, with a new trade deal in place by January 2021, a member of the EU’s negotiating team said Monday.”Until the end of 2020 seems indeed like a natural end point for that implementation period or transition,” said Stefaan De Rynck, senior adviser to the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

In a speech to the Chatham House think-tank in London, he added: “Our goal is to make sure the future relationship is in place in January 2021.”

He also said that during the transition, “new EU rules that come online will need to be applied in the UK. No cherry picking or what one could call a buffet-style transition”.

EU leaders last week signed off on the first stage of Brexit negotiations and talks on a transition period are due to start in January, with Britain hoping for an agreement on the main principles by March.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May said she hoped discussions on the transition and future relationship would begin “soon”.

But she faced opposition from hardline eurosceptics in her Conservative Party over the terms of the transition, with several asking her whether Britain will actually be leaving the EU in March 2019 as planned.

May has accepted the continued jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the transition, and also signalled she would agree to the EU’s demand that Britain hold off signing trade deals with non-EU countries.

“We will prepare for our future independent trade policy by negotiating — and where possible signing — trade deals with third countries, which could come into force after the conclusion of the implementation period,” she said.

However, Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg said the EU’s “rather hostile” proposals would “make the United Kingdom in the transition phase no more than a vassal state, a colony, a serf of the European Union”.

His comments echoed those made at the weekend by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, a leading campaigner for Brexit in the June 2016 EU referendum.

May responded that “a negotiation is between two parties”, stressing the transition would provide continuity for businesses and individuals until the future relationship could be resolved.

She repeated that Britain would be leaving the EU’s single market and customs union, but said the transition arrangements were “a practical matter that most people will understand and appreciate”.


Labour wants to keep UK in single market in Brexit transition

August 27, 2017


© AFP | Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer says his party wants a transitional deal letting Britain stay in the EU customs union after Brexit

LONDON (AFP) – In a major policy shift, Britain’s main opposition Labour party now backs staying in the European single market for a transitional period as the country leaves the EU.

“Labour would seek a transitional deal that maintains the same basic terms that we currently enjoy with the EU,” Keir Starmer, the party’s Brexit spokesman, wrote in The Observer newspaper on Sunday.

“That means we would seek to remain in a customs union with the EU and within the single market during this period. It means we would abide by the common rules of both,” he said, meaning unimpeded immigration from the EU could continue.

The comments represent a major policy shift for Labour, which had previously been ambiguous on whether it would seek to retain single market and customs union membership, arguing only that it wanted a “jobs-first Brexit”.

Labour are in a powerful position after making strong gains in June’s general election, stripping Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives of their majority in parliament and forcing them to make a deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to govern.

As Starmer unveiled Labour’s new approach, a government source said the European Union should not “drag its feet” in negotiating Brexit.

“Both sides must be flexible and willing to compromise when it comes to solving areas where we disagree,” the source said.

“As the EU itself has said, the clock is ticking so neither side should drag its feet,” the source added, just days ahead of a fresh round of UK-EU divorce talks in Brussels.

In a statement, the government’s Brexit ministry also called for the European Commission to be “more flexible”, as British negotiators push for talks on future trade ties.

Last month, it announced that Britain would try to keep as many aspects of its EU membership in place as possible during a transition period of up to three years.

“Many things will look similar” and goods will continue to flow between Britain and the EU in “much the same way as they do now,” even after the scheduled departure date of March 2019, Philip Hammond, Britain’s finance minister, said at the time.

But he also said that EU nationals would have to register with the authorities starting from the expected departure date of March 2019 as the government comes up with a new immigration system.

But the EU has said it will not address Britain’s proposal for a temporary customs union or start trade talks until “sufficient progress” has been made on a number of key issues.

These include the status of EU nationals in Britain, the bill for the divorce and the future of Northern Ireland’s border with the Republic of Ireland.

Britain voted to leave the EU in a referendum last year and Prime Minister Theresa May issued a formal notification in March, starting a two-year negotiating timetable to exit.

Brexit: Labour Supports ‘Soft Bexit’ — Making Life Tougher for Theresa May

August 27, 2017

LONDON, (Reuters) – The opposition Labour Party says it would keep Britain in the European single market and customs union for a transitional period after Brexit, offering a clear alternative to the policies of Prime Minister Theresa May.

The center-left party would seek to maintain the “same basic terms” with the European Union, including the free movement of people, beyond March 2019 when Britain is set to leave the bloc, Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said on Sunday.

Labour wanted to avoid a damaging “cliff edge” for the economy from an abrupt separation in less than two years.

It would also aim to keep a form of customs union with the EU, and would possibly agree a new relationship with the single market, subject to negotiations, Starmer added in the Observer newspaper.

Senior ministers in May’s Conservative government have ruled out remaining in the single market and customs union during any transitional phase following Brexit.

Starmer said following EU rules for a period would allow goods and services to continue to flow between the EU and Britain without tariffs, customs checks or additional red tape.

Starmer’s comments follow months of uncertainty and division on Labour’s position, and are aimed at providing a springboard for party leader Jeremy Corbyn to potentially defeat the Conservatives in any new election.

May’s grip on power has been weakened following a botched early general election in June in which she lost her parliamentary majority, making it harder for her government to maintain a united stance on Brexit.


Labour recognized that a transitional deal would not provide long-term certainty, Starmer said, and it would not resolve the question of migration, one of the key issues for voters in the referendum in 2016.

“That is why a transitional period under Labour will be as short as possible, but as long as necessary,” he added.

The Conservatives said Labour’s position was a “weak attempt to kick the can down the road”.

“Their leader can’t say they would end unlimited freedom of movement, they can’t decide whether we are leaving the single market and they have no vision for what Britain should look like outside the EU,” a spokesman said.

Jeremy Corbyn during the referendum campaign.

 Jeremy Corbyn during the referendum campaign. Photograph: UPI / Barcroft Images

“This week we will be heading out to negotiate a deal with the EU that avoids unnecessary disruption to people and businesses, and allows the UK to grasp the opportunities of Brexit. Labour are still arguing from the sidelines.”

Nigel Farage, former leader of the anti-EU UK Independence Party, also criticized the Labour move.

“Corbyn promised he would leave the single market. He has now betrayed every Labour voter at the General Election,” he said on Twitter.

Britain will return to Brexit talks on Monday after it sought to widen the debate by publishing a series of papers in the last two weeks on subjects ranging from future customs arrangements to data.

The EU wants to make progress on three areas — the rights of expatriates, Britain’s border with EU state Ireland and a financial settlement — before moving on to the other subjects.

The talks restart as Britain’s economy starts to show the strain of last year’s vote to leave.

Starmer said Labour would make jobs and the economy a priority in any settlement.

“That means remaining in a form of customs union with the EU is a possible end destination for Labour, but that must be subject to negotiations,” he added.

“It also means that Labour is flexible as to whether the benefits of the single market are best retained by negotiating a new single market relationship or by working up from a bespoke trade deal.”

($1 = 0.7762 pounds)




The EU is not the enemy of the state. Time to think again on Brexit

Labour has a golden opportunity to capitalise on the strong pro-European feelings of the young

The Guardian

When I referred in my last column to Chancellor Philip Hammond as the only grown-up minister in this chaotic cabinet, I was unaware that he had just put his name to a joint article in the pro-Brexit Sunday Telegraph with his arch-foe Liam Fox, making the following statement: “We respect the will of the British people – in March 2019 the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. We will leave the customs union… we will leave the single market… ”

True, this was followed by reports that he wanted, in effect, to retain quasi-membership for several years, but the two emphasised that such a precaution “cannot be a back door to staying in the EU”. There were also reports that Hammond had in some mysterious way scored a victory, which contrasted vividly with other reports that his attempt at some kind of coup had been foiled.

Certainly, what he put his name to in that article was not good news for those of us who firmly believe it is not too late to arrest the progress of Brexit in its tracks. But then the shenanigans in the present cabinet’s approach to Brexit negotiations call to mind Alice in Wonderland telling the Hatter: “Sometimes I’ve believed in as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

The fact of the matter is that this government is so unstable that anything could happen in the next two months. It is an open secret that up to half a dozen members of the cabinet, and at least one double-breasted outsider, are metaphorically polishing their daggers. As my colleague Andrew Rawnsley has pointed out, the only thing holding up a revolt against Theresa May is fear that, by precipitating yet another election, the assassins might end up with Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.

But Shakespeare’s “vaulting ambition” is a powerful factor in politics, and there are those who wonder how Theresa May can survive the party conference in October unscathed.

Which brings us to the Labour party’s position on Brexit, which most people seem to regard as every bit as confused as the Conservative one.

It is generally assumed that the problem with Jeremy Corbyn’s lukewarm opposition to Brexit during the referendum was that he is a lifelong Eurosceptic and thinks the EU is a capitalist conspiracy against workers.

But most enlightened Labour MPs and trade unionists are more aware than Corbyn seems to be that the EU is in fact very strong on workers’ rights. As for Corbyn’s apparent fear that the EU is the enemy of publicly owned corporations, he must surely be aware of the degree to which so many of our so-called “privatised” utilities and much of our transport network are already in the hands of continental state-owned concerns.

Read the rest:

UK’s Labour Backs Staying in EU’s Single Market After Brexit

August 27, 2017

LONDON — Britain’s main opposition party has announced that it backs the U.K. staying in the European Union single market and customs union during a “transition period” after Brexit.

The Labour Party says the ruling Conservative Party’s Brexit position — taking Britain out of the EU single market immediately after March 2019, when Britain is to leave the bloc — would be “unnecessary” and “highly risky.”

Labour Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said Sunday that his party wants Britain to continue to abide by the terms of its current EU membership during an unspecified transition period, before a final shift to a new Britain-EU relationship.

Starmer added that Labour would leave open the option of Britain remaining a member of the EU customs union and single market for good.

A Look at What Is Ahead Now That Brexit Talks Have Started

June 19, 2017

BRUSSELS — The talks on Britain’s exit from the European Union finally started Monday when EU negotiator Michel Barnier said “Welcome David” to his counterpart, David Davis, and led him toward a huge oval table at the European Commission headquarters.

As the negotiations kick off, here’s a look at some of the major issues the sides face.



They will first have to unravel the British from the EU, which will be challenging to say the least. That will involve everything from deciding what waters each side can fish in to how nuclear agreements should be renegotiated. Only when there is “sufficient progress” does the EU want to look at creating a new relationship with Britain on things like trade and migration. Britain hopes the two themes — divorce terms and future relationship — can be discussed in parallel.



While Britain has struggled to agree on and present a coherent list of demands, the 27 EU nations have had one message all along — in the words of Barnier on Monday: “We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit.” It means clarifying the fate of EU citizens in Britain and vice versa, how to manage the border between Ireland and the U.K., and how much Britain will pay.



The EU says Britain can’t leave without settling its bill, paying up for all its commitments that are still ongoing, including projects that might reach into the next decade, as well as the U.K.’s share of EU staff pensions. EU officials have put the figure at around 50 billion euros ($63 billion) while other estimates by think tanks and in the media go as high as twice that amount. As in any divorce, count on both sides to be picky in splitting the goods and dues.



The EU says it will not compromise on its core “four freedoms”: free movement of goods, capital, services and workers. Britain insists that it must regain the right to control immigration and end free movement from other EU countries into Britain. May says Britain will leave the EU’s single market in goods and services and its tariff-free customs union, but nonetheless, somehow, wants “frictionless” free trade.



Even though May triggered the two-year process on March 29, negotiators will have to get a full agreement much faster than March 2019. EU nations and the European Parliament will have to approve any future deal and that can take months. EU officials have therefore put the realistic deadline at October — and at the latest November — of 2018. If no deal is struck by then, the sides may have to create a transitional deal, possibly prolonging some of the current relationship.

If Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal, that would create huge uncertainties for citizens and businesses as well as issues like global security. How bad that would be in reality is anyone’s guess.

UK’s May seals deal to prop up government, but loses key aides — Is the situation “all but ungovernable”?

June 11, 2017


By Alistair Smout and Amanda Ferguson | LONDON/BELFAST

British Prime Minister Theresa May secured a deal on Saturday to prop up her minority government but looked increasingly isolated after a botched election gamble plunged Britain into crisis days before the start of talks on leaving the European Union.

Her Conservatives struck an outline deal with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) for support on key legislation. It was a humiliating outcome after an election that May had intended to strengthen her ahead of the Brexit push.

Instead, voters stripped the Conservatives of their parliamentary majority. As May struggled to contain the fallout, her two closest aides resigned.

Newspapers said foreign minister Boris Johnson and other leading party members were weighing leadership challenges. But Johnson said he backed May.

May called the early election in April, when opinion polls suggested she was set for a sweeping win.

May’s aides, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill quit on Saturday following sustained criticism within the party of the campaign.

Gavin Barwell was named new chief of staff. The Conservative lawmaker who lost his seat on Thursday and has experience working as a party enforcer in parliament.

The change was unlikely to significantly quell unrest within the party. Most of May’s cabinet members have kept quiet on the issue of her future, adding to speculation that her days as prime minister are numbered.

A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times newspaper found 48 percent of people felt May should quit while 38 percent thought she should stay.


The DUP, whose 10 seats in the new parliament give May just enough support to pass legislation, agreed in principle to a “confidence and supply” arrangement, Downing Street said.

That means it will support a Conservative minority government on key votes in parliament without a formal coalition deal.

A source close to the DUP said the party was seeking more funding for the province and concessions for former British soldiers in exchange for supporting May.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the country after Britain’s election at Downing Street in London, Britain June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Still the deal with the DUP risks upsetting the political balance in Northern Ireland. It aligns London more closely with the pro-British side in the divided province, where a power-sharing government with Irish nationalists is suspended.

The Observer newspaper said the DUP arrangement fell short of a full coalition agreement because of concerns among some Conservative lawmakers about the socially conservative DUP’s positions on gay rights, abortion and climate change.

The turmoil engulfing May has increased the chance that Britain will fall out of the EU in 2019 without a deal. Previously, she said she wanted to take Britain out of the EU’s single market and customs union in order to cut immigration.

Her party is deeply divided over what it wants from Brexit. The election result means businesses still have no idea what trading rules they can expect in the coming years.

EU Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said it may now be possible to discuss closer ties between Britain and the EU than May had initially planned, given her election flop.

“For instance, if London were to stay in the customs union, then it would not have to renegotiate all trade agreements,” he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper.

The pound on Friday fell 1.7 percent against the U.S. dollar and 1.4 percent against the euro.

After confirming on Friday that her top five ministers, including finance minister Philip Hammond, would keep their jobs, May must name the rest of her team, who will take on one of the most demanding jobs in recent British political history.

May has said Brexit talks will begin on June 19 as scheduled, the same day as the formal reopening of parliament. She confirmed this to German leader Angela Merkel in a phone call on Saturday.

She also reiterated that she would seek a reciprocal agreement early in the talks on rights of EU and British citizens, Downing Street said.

Elmar Brok, a German conservative and the European Parliament’s top Brexit expert, told the Ruhr Nachrichten newspaper that the two-year talks would now be more complicated.

“May won’t be able to make any compromises because she lacks a broad parliamentary majority,” he said.


Britain’s largely pro-Conservative press questioned whether May could remain in power.

The Sun newspaper said senior members of the party had vowed to get rid of May, but would wait at least six months because they feared a leadership contest could propel the Labour party into power under Jeremy Corbyn, who supports renationalization of key industries and higher taxes for business and top earners.

Survation, the opinion polling firm that came closest to predicting correctly the election’s outcome, said a new poll it conducted for the Mail on Sunday newspaper showed support for Labour now 6 percentage points ahead of the Conservatives.

“She’s staying, for now,” one Conservative Party source told Reuters. Former Conservative cabinet minister Owen Paterson, asked about her future, said: “Let’s see how it pans out.”

May had repeatedly ruled out the need for a new election before changing her mind. Labour stunned even its own supporters by taking enough seats from the Conservatives to deny them a majority.

The Times newspaper’s front page declared that Britain was “effectively leaderless” and the country “all but ungovernable”.

“The Conservatives have not yet broken the British system of democracy, but through their hubris and incompetence they have managed to make a mockery of it,” it said in an editorial.

If May is to honor the wish of the 52 percent of voters who opted last year to take Britain out of the EU, she must find a way to bridge the differences within her party.

Its eurosceptic wing has long been a thorn in the side of Conservative prime ministers. On the other hand, pro-Europe Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said she wanted to be involved in “looking again” at Britain’s aims for Brexit.

Davidson was one of the few Conservative success stories in the election as the Scottish wing of the party won 13 seats.

She has said she favors retaining the greatest possible level of access to Europe’s single market. Davidson also said she had received reassurances from May that the party’s deal with the DUP would not involve a rollback of gay rights.

(Writing by William Schomberg and Kate Holton; additional reporting by Alistair Smout, Costas Pitas, Kylie MacLellan and David Milliken in London, Andrea Shalal in Berlin; Editing by Kevin Liffey and David Gregorio)


China invites Britain to attend new Silk Road summit

February 8, 2017


FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hand with British Prime Minister Theresa May before their meeting at the West Lake State House on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, September 5, 2016. REUTERS/Etienne Oliveau/Pool/File Photo
By Ben Blanchard and Elizabeth Piper | BEIJING/LONDON

China has invited British Prime Minister Theresa May to attend a major summit in May on its “One Belt, One Road” initiative to build a new Silk Road, diplomatic sources told Reuters, as London said she would visit China this year.

“One Belt, One Road” is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s landmark programme to invest billions of dollars in infrastructure projects including railways, ports and power grids across Asia, Africa and Europe.

China has dedicated $40 billion to a Silk Road Fund and the idea was the driving force behind the establishment of the $50 billion China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

China has so far given few details about who will attend the summit, to be held in Beijing.

The country’s top diplomat, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, told the official China Daily last week that leaders from about 20 countries have confirmed their participation, representing Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America, though he did not give names.

One Beijing-based diplomatic source with direct knowledge of the invite list told Reuters that May was among the leaders who had been invited.

“China is choosing the countries it sees as friends and who will be most influential in promoting ‘One Belt, One Road’,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Two other diplomatic sources confirmed May was on the invite list.

“It’s China’s most important diplomatic event of the year,” one of the sources told Reuters.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said plans for the summit are proceeding smoothly, and that details of the participants will be announced at a later date.

“China welcomes Prime Minister May to visit China at the appropriate time,” Lu told a daily news briefing.

Sri Lanka has already confirmed its prime minister is coming, and China says Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is also attending.

Foreign leaders often combine attendances at important multilateral events China is hosting with official state visits to China.


Speaking in London, May’s aides confirmed she would visit China this year to discuss trade ties, the latest in a series of foreign trips to cement relations with major powers as she negotiates Britain’s divorce from the European Union.

May’s aides gave few details about the trip, but she is keen to strengthen her hand by securing foreign support before launching Brexit talks, which are set to be among the most complicated Britain has ever undertaken.

“It would be a renewed expression of the close relationship between Britain and China, something that you have seen obviously develop over the past few years,” May’s spokesman told reporters on Tuesday.

“I would imagine that trade would form some part of the discussions that we have.”

The Commerce Ministry has said China has an open attitude towards a free trade deal with Britain once it leaves the EU and was willing to study it, but Chinese officials have otherwise said little publicly about the subject.

May attended a summit in China of the G20 leading economies last September, shortly after she became prime minister following June’s referendum vote to leave the EU, and was invited by Xi to visit again.

With May having made clear she plans for Britain to leave the EU’s single market, trade has dominated her talks with foreign leaders in recent months.

She has secured assurances from U.S. President Donald Trump, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other world powers that they are keen to start talks on boosting links.

But her attempts to up the stakes in talks with the EU, which she is due to launch before the end of March, have also drawn criticism.

Some opposition lawmakers have accused May of ducking difficult issues to win promises for trade – a charge repeated when she became the first foreign leader late last month to meet Trump, who has since been criticized over his immigration curbs.

She also came under fire for strengthening ties with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who has been criticized by rights groups for jailing tens of thousands of people after a failed coup in July.

(Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan in London and Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by William James, Catherine Evans and Lincoln Feast)

French PM, Juncker say Brexit deal must be worse than membership

February 6, 2017


France’s Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (L) flanked by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaks in Brussels on February 6, 2017

BRUSSELS (AFP) – French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker warned Britain Monday that the terms of any Brexit deal must not be better than full EU membership.Cazeneuve added that Britain must discuss its divorce agreement, including an exit bill that the EU estimates at 60 billion euros, before talks on a future relationship can even begin.

“We must first discuss the conditions in which the exit will take place, and to do it within the time allowed for negotiation, without wasting time,” Cazeneuve said after talks in Brussels with Juncker.

Cazeneuve said this should happen “with the aim of ensuring that the interests of the EU are defended and that a state leaving the EU can not benefit from a better regime than that between member states.”

Juncker, the former Luxembourg prime minister who heads the executive arm of the EU, gave a similar warning to Britain.

“We agreed on a central point: that the deal that will one day be offered to the United Kingdom should not be a deal as advantageous” as membership, he said.

New European Parliament chief Antonio Tajani meanwhile said MEPs “deserve to be involved in all decisions” about Brexit.

Parliament’s Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt has warned the assembly, which has the final vote on any Brexit deal, could veto an arrangement which gives too much away.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to trigger Article 50 of the EU’s governing treaties by the end of March, after which negotiators will have two years to thrash out a deal before Brexit happens.

May has said she wants Britain to keep as much access to the EU’s single market as possible while limiting immigration from EU countries but Brussels says she cannot pick and choose.

Britain believes the exit bill, which covers budgetary obligations and pension contributions for EU employees, should be closer to 20 billion euros, European sources said.

After Theresa May Sets Out Her Plan For Brexit, Many Applaud, Many Worry — UK is not a “supplicant” — “There is a fine line between ambitions and hopeless optimism.”

January 18, 2017

BBC News

Image may contain: 1 person

The Latest on British Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on Brexit

By Gavin Stamp and Alex Hunt

David Davis, the secretary of state for exiting the European Union, says negotiations with the EU will conclude after two years as per Article 50.

Mr Davis was keen to stress that the UK is not a “supplicant” in negotiations and that a good deal would benefit both sides. He does admit, however, that implementation of new deals may take significantly longer.

Here’s the text of Laura’s analysis on BBC Radio 4’s Today:

Laura Kuenssberg

BBC political editor

The Brexiteers in government are delighted but, make no mistake, the government knows it is a risk to take this approach. There is a fine line between ambitions and hopeless optimism. If you were at the speech yesterday, watching the faces and the body language of the EU ambassadors who were all invited along to listen, their reactions ranged from looking sad and devastated to what looked like nausea among some of them. For the government, the appeal of clarity was very strong. They killed off some the accusations that were leveled at them that they did not know what they want and they could not make up their mind. That argument has gone. But this is the beginning of a very long and politically risky process. It is a bit like trying to cross the Himalayas on foot without oxygen or sherpas to carry your gear. It is a bit like Theresa May has made it to the top of the first foothill without too many injuries but if you look at ahead at the summits – in front of her they are enormous and full of jagged rocks. Past prime ministers have foundered on our relationship with the European Union and Theresa May is well aware of that.”

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer says he is concerned that a disorderly exit could leave the UK with “no meaningful relationship” with the EU.

‘What I was highly critical of yesterday was Theresa May’s sort of bargain basement tax haven threat,” he told BBC’s Breakfast

“That would make people poorer, there’s no mandate for it and it is totally inconsistent.”

Jeremy Corbyn, who will face Theresa May later at Prime Minister’s Questions, echoed this view by tweeting that he would fight any attempt to turn the UK into a “tax haven on the edge of Europe”.



Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Asked if he guarantees there won’t be any customs checks in future, Brexit Secretary David Davis says he can’t, but his aim is for a customs agreement that is as “frictionless as possible” – repeating a phrase that Mrs May used yesterday.

He rejects suggestions that the Civil Service simply isn’t equipped to deliver Brexit, saying he has spoken to senior mandarins in every single department and they all think it is possible.

He quotes former cabinet secretary Robin Butler as saying that if the civil service can cope with World War Two, it can cope with this.

In conclusion, he says he hopes Brits will see their economic prospects enhanced by Brexit while the UK remains “good friends” with its neighbours.

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Parliament will have debates and votes through the Brexit process, not just on the final deal, Brexit Secretary David Davis says. He cites other looming legislation such as the Great Repeal Bill. 

Asked what happens if MPs block the settlement, Mr Davis suggests that this “will not reverse” Brexit as the government has already been given a mandate to proceed by the referendum decision.

Parliament will not vote it down. This negotiation will succeed.”

David Davis: Public wants us to ‘get on with’ Brexit

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

David Davis echoes Boris Johnson by saying there are a huge number of countries that are keen to do free trade deals with the UK – he names Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the US among them.

He says his goal is the best possible deal – both for the UK and the EU.

He is pressed by John Humphrys on how long the process may take. Mr Davis says he believes the fundamental negotiations can be done in two years although he agrees that the implementation phase may take longer.

Asked how long – John Humphrys mentions five years – Mr Davis says it won’t take that long and says the public wants the government to get on with it.

We need to do this expeditiously and that is what we are going to do.”

 Image may contain: 1 person, suit

David Davis: Best speech for a ‘long time’

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Brexit Secretary David Davis tells the BBC that Mrs May’s speech was “overwhelmingly positive” – describing it as one of the best speeches he has heard from a prime minister for a “long time”.

Quoting Donald Tusk – who said Mrs May’s ideas were “realistic” – he says the EU’s response has been measured and there hasn’t been the “push back” that you would expect at this early stage.

Pressed about criticism of the UK’s approach from European Parliament negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, Mr Davis says “Guy is only one player in this”.

Mr Davis says the UK wants a constructive relationship with the EU going forward, in areas like trade and security, but he says what the UK will not “take” is any kind of settlement designed to punish the UK.

Tomas Prouza, the Czech Republic’s secretary of state for EU affairs, tells Today that he thinks David Cameron could not have gotten any more from the EU in his negotiations. Mr Prouza says Cameron’s attitude to the EU was all wrong, as it suggested “We like your money but we don’t like your people”. Mr Prouza says that this is not the Europe anyone wants to see.

Catch-up: Newsnight on May’s speech, including Corbyn interview

Brian Taylor

Political editor, Scotland

It was, all in all, an assured performance by the prime minister. She looked and sounded confident as she delivered her Plan for Britain. But it might be thought appropriate to note the ironies and even potential contradictions.

Gemma Tetlow from the Financial Times explains the single market

Brexit: Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain will leave the EU’s single market — but will “seek greatest possible access to it”

January 17, 2017

LONDON — The Latest on British Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on Brexit (all times local):

12:40 p.m.

Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain will ensure control of immigration from Europe as it exits the EU — though she pledged to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K. as soon as possible.

May said that while Britain remains an open and tolerant country and wants to continue attracting the best talent, immigration has put pressure on public services like schools and health care.

May says that Brexit must mean controlling the number of Europeans arriving from Britain. She vowed to guarantee the rights of Europeans already living and working in Britain — as well as those of Britons living in Europe. But she didn’t provide details on either of those points.

Questioned on what Britain’s future immigration policy would look like, May said details had yet to be worked out.

12:20 p.m.

Prime Minister Theresa May says Britain will leave the EU’s single market — but will “seek greatest possible access to it” — as it exits the trade bloc.

May says her plans for Brexit cannot allow the U.K. to remain in the single market of the bloc because that would mean “not leaving the EU at all.”

May said she wanted Britain to be part of a customs union agreement with the other EU states, and remove as many trade barriers as possible. She did not provide details, but said she had an “open mind” on how to do it.


12:15 p.m.

The pound is rallying on British Prime Minister Theresa May’s focus on keeping Britain open to global trade.

Though her speech Tuesday indicates that Britain will leave the European Union’s single market, she stressed her government’s desire to make the country open to new trade opportunities in the global economy.

May added that Britain will seek a free trade deal with the EU after leaving it. Such deals, however, typically take years to negotiate.

The pound, which has been recovering Tuesday from steep losses earlier in the week, rallied to trade 1.9 percent higher at $1.2271. On Monday, it was as low as $1.20, the weakest level since October and near a 31-year low.


12:05 p.m.

Prime Minister Theresa May says that Britain plans to make a clean break from the European Union and not opt for “anything that leaves us half-in, half-out.”

In a major speech Tuesday, May said Britain won’t “hold on to bits of membership,” nor seek associate or partial membership of the bloc.

She says Britain will forge a “new and equal partnership” with Europe.

Britons voted to leave the EU in a referendum in June.

Setting out her vision for Britain, May said she wanted her country to emerge “stronger, fairer, more united and more outward-looking than before.”

She also said that Britain’s parliament will get to vote on a final Brexit deal.


11:15 a.m.

Anthony Scaramucci, who is part of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, says global elites have to get out of their comfort zones and listen to the people if they don’t understand how Trump was elected or why Britain voted to leave the European Union.

At a panel at the World Economic Forum, financier Scaramucci said the richest top 3 percent of the world benefited from the massive stimulus measures enacted by global central banks since the financial crisis and are basically back to where they were in 2007. The remaining people, he said, are “struggling.”

To those among the global elites who don’t understand that post-crisis phenomenon, Scaramucci had a message: “Go to the prairie lands of the United States, or perhaps places in Great Britain or places in Europe. You know the places. Listen to the people. We have to as a collective group of people come up with the right policies.”


10:25 a.m.

The chairman and CEO of Bank of America says major companies like his need clear rules before deciding how much business to maintain in Britain after it quits the European Union.

Brian Moynihan and other top bankers and executives gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos are eagerly awaiting details about the U.K. exit plans from British Prime Minister Theresa May in a speech Tuesday.

Moynihan, speaking to The Associated Press, said Bank of America is working on “all kinds of scenarios” to possibly shift activities out of London after the so-called Brexit, but insisted “it’s still not clear what that would do, or wouldn’t do.”

He said: “It’s still premature to say what anybody’s going to do until you have one set of rules. London will be an important part of our company no matter what happens with the British economy.”

Noting a mass sense of “dislocation” in the British and U.S. electorate because of fast technological change, he said, “The No. 1 job for the leader of any enterprise, whether civil political or business, is to be responsive to the people they serve.”


9:05 a.m.

Prime Minister Theresa May is preparing to make a speech that will signal that Britain will make a clean break from the European Union and not seek to remain “half-in, half-out.”

In her most detailed address on the U.K.’s exit strategy, May will say that Britain doesn’t want “partial membership of the European Union” or “to hold on to bits of membership as we leave.”

Advance excerpts suggest May’s speech will disappoint businesses and voters who want the country to stay in the bloc’s single market.

It’s likely to be another shock for the pound, which hit a three-month low below $1.20 Monday. It traded slightly above that level early Tuesday.

Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, said he was “expecting a wild ride for the pound today.”


In ‘Brexit’ Speech, Theresa May Outlines a Clean Break for U.K.

LONDON — In a speech that could define Britain’s relations with its neighbors for decades to come, Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday charted a course toward a clean break with the European Union, calling for the country to abandon the single market after more than four decades of integration with the Continent.

Mrs. May emphasized Britain’s determination to regain control of migration from the European Union and rejected the supremacy of the European Court of Justice, even at the risk of losing unfettered access to the single market, but she also said she wanted to procure tariff-free trade with the bloc and to keep parts of its customs union.

The long-awaited speech was a shift for Mrs. May, who had dropped heavy hints about her thinking but had refused to outline publicly how Britain would leave the bloc after voters supported a withdrawal in a June referendum.