Posts Tagged ‘Theresa May’

Theresa May attacks ‘outdated’ attitudes to universities as she launches review of funding and courses

February 19, 2018

Theresa May

Theresa May wants a shake-up of the university system CREDIT: REUTERS


Theresa May will on Monday attack Britain’s “outdated attitude” to university education as she says too many people take degrees and are charged too much money for their courses.

The Prime Minister will suggest that snobbery towards vocational training has created a belief that it is “something for other people’s children” as she aims to create parity between academic and technical education for over-18s.

Announcing a review of tertiary education and university funding, Mrs May will admit that the current system of tuition fees is not working because the amount students pay for their courses bears no relation to the “cost or quality of their course”.

The year-long review will be asked to look…

Read the rest (Paywall):


BBC News

Tuition fees: Theresa May challenges university costs

Theresa MayImage copyright REUTERS
Image captionTheresa May’s review will consider the cost of tuition fees and repaying student debt

The prime minister is to call for better value for students in England, admitting they face “one of the most expensive systems of university tuition in the world”.

Theresa May will announce an independent review of fees and student finance on Monday.

She will also argue for an end to “outdated attitudes” that favour university over technical education.

Labour says it would abolish fees and bring back maintenance grants.

Mrs May, announcing the year-long review of student finance and university funding, will warn that the system has failed to deliver sufficient competition on price – with almost all courses being charged at the maximum £9,250 per year.

For many students, the prime minister will say, “the level of fees charged do not relate to the cost or quality of the course”.

There are “serious concerns” about the cost among parents and grandparents as well as students, she will say.

There is a temporary freeze on fees at £9,250 and that is likely to be extended for at least another year during the review.

‘Value for money’

Education Secretary Damian Hinds told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he wanted to see “more variety” in the level of fees and also the structure of a degree, including whether some could be two-year courses instead of three.

But there was no suggestion that the review will consider scrapping fees all together.

“If you’ve benefitted from a university degree, we know that typically people earn over £100,000 more over the course of their life… then you should be making a big part of that investment,” Mr Hinds said.

The review also will consider ways of reducing costs such as cutting interest rates on loans – currently at 6.1% – and reintroducing maintenance grants for disadvantaged students, as well as examining the level of fees.

Support for vocational training and apprenticeships in “post-18 education” will also be considered.

Chart showing tuition fees in various countries

Mrs May will say the review needs to make sure poorer students can have an “equal chance”.

Students from poorer families are offered bigger loans for living costs than better-off students, who are expected to be partly supported by their parents, but it means they graduate with bigger debts.

Restoring maintenance grants for poorer students, scrapped last year, would reduce their level of borrowing.

Angela RaynerImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Labour’s Angela Rayner says fees are unsustainable and should be scrapped

The prime minister will also warn that the route into further technical and vocational training is “hard to navigate”, saying the standards across the sector “are too varied” and the funding “is patchy”.

earn the most by subject

Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, has called for services in further and higher education to be free at the point of delivery.

She called the tuition fee system “unsustainable” and called for fees to be scrapped and maintenance grants brought back.

The Treasury select committee, chaired by former education secretary Nicky Morgan, has raised concerns about the high level of interest rates.


By BBC education editor Branwen Jeffreys

This review is already facing criticism – for pushing the issue of how to pay for degree-level study into the long grass.

The government says graduates will be expected to contribute somehow, but otherwise has given little indication of what it expects from the review.

It’s likely to propose solutions just in time to allow the Conservatives to formulate a policy ahead of the next election.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds says he wants the different routes to getting a degree to be explained more effectively to prospective students – including shorter degrees, or degree-level apprenticeships.

He thinks ministers should consider extra support for university courses that are expensive to deliver.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies says students in England face more than £5,000 in interest charges before they have even left university – contributing to average graduate debts of more than £50,000.

Former Conservative and Labour education ministers Ms Greening, Lord Willetts, Lord Adonis and Charles Clarke have all raised concerns about the level of interest charges.

‘Variety’ of fee levels

There have also been warnings against different levels of fees for sciences or humanities and arts, or for different types of university.

GraduatesImage copyrightPA
Image captionWith higher fees and interest rates, students will graduate with an average debt of £50,000

Lord Willetts said higher fees for courses with the highest graduate earnings would become a “reverse pupil premium”, giving even more money to the most advantaged courses and institutions.

Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham, backed calls for more flexible approaches – such as two-year degree courses – but warned that setting different fee levels would be a “bad idea”.

Dame Janet Beer, president of Universities UK, said the current system needed to be “better understood and feel fairer to students”.

The priorities should be support for disadvantaged students and reversing the collapse in numbers of part-time and mature students, said the university group leader.


London raises the stakes to secure Brexit deal

February 17, 2018


Image may contain: 1 person, standing and text

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP) The Associated Press

UK Prime Minister Theresa May restated her nation’s “unconditional” post-Brexit security commitment to Europe in a landmark speech at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.  Her address, and her visit to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday, are key parts of a major attempt by the UK government this month to seize back the initiative from Brussels in UK exit negotiations with talks on a transition deal about to begin.

There had been growing business and political confidence, since December 2017’s first phase Brexit deal, that such a transition deal can be secured, potentially quickly by March.  But this is becoming tougher, in part because of the significant, continuing divisions in May’s government.

While the prime minister had been temporarily buoyed in Westminster by December’s deal, she remains in a weak political position overall.  And it is this that makes her already poor hand of cards on Brexit even more difficult to deal, let alone win with, against Brussels in coming negotiations not just over the transition, but also any final settlement with the EU 27.

May had hoped last June that a big general UK general election victory would allow her to smooth over the deep divisions in the Cabinet and forge a consensus on Brexit strategy.  But there is significantly less chance of that now, despite’s December’s deal, and the fundamental disagreements within her senior ministers on the nature and length of any transition may not ultimately be resolved until the second half of the year at the earliest.

Underlying these key disagreements — between pragmatists such as finance minister Philip Hammond and ideological Brexiteers such as foreign secretary Boris Johnson — is the deeper, crucial issue of what the UK will actually transition to in terms of its relationships with the EU 27.  Remarkably, more than a year and half after the Brexit referendum, May’s government appears to have no firmer idea of where the nation is ultimately headed than when she gave her landmark Lancaster House speech in January 2017, and indeed the first time the Cabinet had a formal discussion on this topic was in December.

A sign of continued disagreement over such fundamental Brexit issues among senior ministers came when Hammond refused earlier this year to rule out the UK remaining in the European customs union. This put him at odds with May, who last year ruled out retaining any “bits of EU membership” post-Brexit and asserted instead that she would like a harder exit, leaving the customs union, single market, and common commercial policy and tariff while seeking a “bold, ambitious free trade agreement” with “the freest possible trade on goods and services … that is as frictionless as possible.”


This will be a historic year for the UK and Europe, and Brussels holds most of the trump cards. 

Andrew Hammond

As Merkel indicated on Friday, until London has addressed these first-order exit questions — with the associated trade-offs such as a potential “harder border” in Ireland — with greater clarity, Brussels may drag its feet in forthcoming transition negotiations.  And this, alone, could rule out a deal by March, which will disappoint UK and European businesses looking to plan ahead for the post-spring 2019 business environment.

To be fair, European Commission President Donald Tusk has said that May is becoming “more realistic” about the trade-offs that will be necessary in the final negotiations.  Nonetheless, it is unclear whether May’s collective negotiating demands — should she ultimately press for a hard Brexit — can be realised from the EU in the timeframe of Article 50 given its own robust negotiating positions.

This is especially so given May’s weakened political standing after June’s UK general election, when she lost her parliamentary majority.  Indeed, it remains possible that her government could fall in 2018.

So with a significant amount now beyond her power, even more rests on whether the remaining 27 EU states will ultimately offer outlines of such a deal on attractive enough terms for her to accept. Here, much may depend upon whether the EU 27 fragment in 2018 with their Brexit preferences, or alternatively that they shows the same degree of strong unity and common interest as they did in 2017 vis a vis the UK, as Merkel indicated on Friday would be the case.

Last year, the perceived existential threat from Brexit seen by some continental politicians, alongside the in-built advantages for Brussels within the two-year Article 50 process, handed the initiative to the EU 27.  For example, under Article 50 it was for them alone, not the UK, to decide last December whether “sufficient progress” was made in the first phase divorce talks to justify moving to the next stage, fortifying the bloc’s already strong position.

And as well as adjudicating the process in this way, Brussels has also controlled the timetable. This is exemplified, for instance, with the decision of Brussels to delay until this later this year substantive talks on the future UK-EU relationship, including over trade, putting the transition talks first, despite the fact that London wanted the sets of talks to proceed in parallel.

Taken overall, with London now raising the stakes in securing a final deal, and transition, 2018 will be huge and historic not just for the UK but also the EU.  Delivering a smooth departure will need clear, coherent strategy and thinking so all parties can move toward a new constructive trade and security partnership, as May outlined in her Munich speech, that can hopefully bring benefits for both at a time of significant global geopolitical turbulence.

Andrew Hammond is an Associate at LSE IDEAS at the London School of Economics



By GEIR MOULSON and DAVID RISING, Associated Press

MUNICH (AP) — British Prime Minister Theresa May urged her country’s European Union partners on Saturday not to let “rigid institutional restrictions” get in the way of a wide-ranging post-Brexit security alliance, warning that there would be “damaging real-world consequences” if none can be agreed.

In a speech to the Munich Security Conference, May sought to reassure foreign and security policy leaders on Britain’s future commitment to European security.

“Europe’s security is our security — and that is why I’ve said, and I say again today, that the United Kingdom is unconditionally committed to maintaining it,” she said.

The British government has already called for a wide-ranging security treaty with the EU to ensure that intelligence-sharing and law-enforcement cooperation continue after Brexit, scheduled for March 2019. Such a deal would allow Britain to remain a member of the EU police body Europol and keep use of the European Arrest Warrant, which allows for the quick extradition of suspects.

But it has been unclear what legal framework would underpin such a treaty, because Britain says it will leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

May said the challenge is to put together a “deep and special partnership” with the EU to retain and further cooperation.

“This cannot be a time when any of us allow competition between partners, rigid institutional restrictions or deep-seated ideology to inhibit our cooperation and jeopardize the security of our citizens,” she said.

“We must do whatever is most practical and pragmatic in ensuring our collective security,” she added.

May conceded that there’s no existing security arrangement between the 28-nation EU and a non-member that reflects the full depth of the existing EU-U.K. relationship, but argued that there’s precedent in “comprehensive strategic relationships” in fields such as trade and there’s “no legal or operational reason” why such an accord couldn’t be reached on security.

“However, if the priority in the negotiations becomes avoiding any kind of new cooperation with a country outside the EU, then this political doctrine and ideology will have damaging real-world consequences for the security of all our people,” she said, including much more cumbersome extraditions and an end to data exchange through Europol.

She said that a new arrangement must respect both the sovereignty of the EU and U.K., and Britain “will respect the remit of the European Court of Justice” when participating in EU agencies.

Conference organizer Wolfgang Ischinger remarked after May’s speech that “things would be so much easier if you stayed” — drawing applause.

May quickly slapped down that idea.

“We are leaving the European Union,” she said to a quiet room. “There is no question of a second referendum or going back on that vote.”

The head of the European Commission said the EU-British security alliance will continue after Brexit, but didn’t say on what terms.

“I believe, since we are not at war with the U.K. and we do not want to take revenge on the U.K. for what the British people have decided, this security alliance, the security bridge between the U.K. and the EU will be maintained,” Jean-Claude Juncker said as he took the same stage shortly after May. “We still need it.”

Juncker said a future security relationship shouldn’t be mixed up with other Brexit-related issues, arguing that they should be considered individually.


Geir Moulson reported from Berlin.

Theresa May wants new security treaty with EU next year

February 17, 2018

British PM seeks treaty on post-Brexit military, intelligence and counter-terrorism cooperation

Theresa May delivers her speech at the 2018 Munich Security Conference.
 Theresa May delivers her speech at the 2018 Munich security conference. Photograph: Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images

Theresa May has called for a new security treaty with the European Union that should be up and running next year to ensure military, intelligence and counter-terrorism cooperation after London leaves the bloc.

“The key aspects of our future partnership in this area will already be effective from 2019,” the British prime minister told top European and US officials at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

“The partnership that we need to create is one that offers UK and EU way to combine our efforts to greatest effect where this is in our shared interest,” May said.

She called on her country’s European Union partners not to let “rigid institutional restrictions” get in the way of a wide-ranging post-Brexit security partnership and warned that there will be “damaging real-world consequences” if none is agreed.

May told the conference that “the UK is just as committed to Europe’s security in the future as we have been in the past”.

May said the challenge is to put together a “deep and special partnership” with the EU to retain cooperation. She said: “This cannot be a time when any of us allow competition between partners, rigid institutional restrictions or deep-seated ideology to inhibit our cooperation and jeopardise the security of our citizens.”

May ruled out a second vote on the country’s membership of the European Union, saying there was no going back on the result of the June 2016 vote.

“We are leaving the EU and there is no question of a second referendum or going back and I think that’s important,” May said.

“People in the UK feel very strongly that if we take a decision, then governments should turn not round and say: no, you got that wrong,” she said when asked if Britain would consider a second referendum.

Ahead of Saturday’s speech, May appeared at a joint press conference with Angela Merkel in Berlin at which the two leaders spoke in conciliatory terms about the UK’s future relationship with the European Union, with Merkel saying that she was “curious” but “not frustrated” with the British government’s slow progress in outlining its plan.

May’s critics will argue one key problem is her rigid adherence to a red line in the Brexit negotiations of leaving the jurisdiction of the European court of justice, which has made continued cooperation more difficult.


Theresa May to warn EU ‘lives will be put at risk’ if it lets ‘deep-seated ideology’ block new post-Brexit security deal — Could tangle with Merkel

February 17, 2018

The Telegraph

Theresa May

Theresa May, the Prime Minister CREDIT: MARKUS SCHREIBER/AP

By James Crisp

Theresa May will today warn the European Union that lives will be put at risk if it lets its “deep-seated ideology” act as a barrier to a new post-Brexit security treaty.

In a landmark speech in Munich the Prime Minister will say that there will be “damaging real world consequences” if it puts “political doctrine” before co-operation on security.

The EU is threatening to bar Britain from joining the European Arrest Warrant and limit access to a European police database containing information about criminals and terrorists after Brexit.

Its approach is being viewed with increasing concern by member states, who believe that co-operation with Britain’s world-class security services is vital.

Read the rest (Paywall):
BBC News

Theresa May warns EU not to block post-Brexit security deal


Border Force check passports at Gatwick AirportImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Theresa May will warn EU leaders that public safety will suffer if they allow “political doctrine and ideology” to hamper post-Brexit security arrangements.

The prime minister will say she wants a new partnership of unprecedented “depth and breadth” when the UK leaves the EU.

In a speech to the Munich Security Conference she will urge countries to show “real political will”.

New security arrangements have yet to be negotiated for after Brexit.

During talks with Angela Merkel on Friday, Mrs May said both sides need to be “bold and ambitious” in framing their future relations.

The German chancellor said that while the UK could not replicate its existing membership outside the EU, she wanted relations to be “as close as possible”.

EU member states currently work closely in the fight against organised crime and terrorism.

Key initiatives include the European Arrest Warrant – under which suspects can be speedily extradited between member states – Europol, the EU intelligence agency, and the Schengen Information System of real-time alerts about suspects.


The UK says that while the legal framework for its membership of these arrangements will end when it leaves the EU in March 2019, it wants to draw up new working arrangements – which ministers have described as being “as close to the status quo as possible”.

Theresa May and Angela MerkelImage copyrightAFP
Mrs Merkel said she was “curious not frustrated” about the UK’s approach

In her speech on Saturday, Mrs May will point to the arrest of suspected terrorists and operations against people traffickers as examples of the benefits of cooperation across borders.

And she will warn other EU countries not to let “ideology” get in the way of a deal.

“This cannot be a time when any of us allow competition between partners, rigid institutional restrictions or deep-seated ideology to inhibit our co-operation and jeopardise the security of our citizens,” she will say.

“We must do whatever is most practical and pragmatic in ensuring our collective security.”

Analysis: Vicki Young, chief political correspondent

Theresa May has spent months calling for a deep and special economic partnership with the EU after Brexit and now her focus turns to security.

Again she’s asking for a unique arrangement.

Britain will be outside the EU, a “third” country, and it would be unprecedented for the current close cooperation to continue. But the thrust of the British government’s argument is that we should be a special case.

The UK is offering its substantial resources (the second largest defence budget in NATO) and expertise in counter terrorism. The prime minister wants a treaty to enshrine what Downing Street describes as the real, tangible benefits of cooperation, and failure to sign up will play into the hands of our enemies who’d like nothing more than to see Europe divided.

Her warning to EU leaders is blunt. Don’t let your deep seated ideology put Europe’s citizens in danger.

Mrs May has consistently said that she won’t use security as a bargaining chip, that her offer is “unconditional” but that’s no guarantee that the EU would simply accept a request from the UK to continue to be a part of Europol or the European Arrest Warrant.

Her hope is that the EU takes a practical, pragmatic approach because they accept that continuing to work together is mutually beneficial.

‘Real world consequences’

There is no current example of the sort of security agreement the UK is seeking with the EU, Mrs May will say.

But she will say the sort of arrangements reached with other countries in areas like trade could be replicated.

“However, if the priority in the negotiations becomes avoiding any kind of new co-operation with a country outside the EU, then this political doctrine and ideology will have damaging real world consequences for the security of all our people, in the UK and the EU,” she will say.

“As leaders, we cannot let that happen.”

Earlier this year the outgoing head of Europol, Rob Wainwright, told the BBC Brexit would mean the UK losing influence on cross-border policing and security work.

“We will find other ways of influencing, more informal ways, but they will be less direct, less pronounced and probably less successful than they are now,” he said.

Mrs May’s speech is one of a series dubbed “the road to Brexit” with her government under pressure to set out in detail what it wants life outside the EU to look like.

The EU is on the verge of political chaos, and Britain could be the loser

February 16, 2018

By Liam Halligan

The Telegraph

Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel is hanging on by her fingertips CREDIT: FLORIAN GAERTNER/PHOTOTHEK

Theresa May visits Germany Friday, for “crunch talks” with Angela Merkel. Embattled, wounded and clinging to power, the German Chancellor has much in common with her UK counterpart. Having led the world’s fourth largest economy since 2005, Mrs Merkel 
is a political giant. But her Christian Democrats (CDU) stumbled badly in last September’s election and “Mutti” could soon be out of office.

Some Brexiteers, given the tough line Berlin has taken in our Article 50 talks, take pleasure in Germany’s political misfortune. There is no English word for schadenfreude, but most of us know what it is.

Such gloating is wrong. That the EU’s commercial powerhouse and paymaster has been without a government…

 Read the rest:

Germany’s economy is growing – so why are voters turning against politicians who brought them this success?

By Hamish McRae
The Telegraph

While Germany has been good at creating jobs, it has not been so good at passing along the benefits of those jobs to the people doing them


It is an extraordinary juxtaposition. German politics are only slowly emerging from deep freeze, while the German economy is running hot, hot, hot.

Germany’s elections were on the 24 September, and at best Angela Merkel will be able to cobble together a coalition with the Social Democrats by Easter. It may well be that the SDP members will reject the coalition when they vote on 4 March, in which case – well, I don’t know what will happen, but I do know that Germany will have gone six months with a caretaker government and could well go quite a bit longer.

Now look at the economy. We have just had figures today showing that last year it grew by 2.2 per cent, the fastest since 2011. As a result the job market is very tight. Unemployment on a harmonised basis is down to 3.6 per cent, the lowest since unification in 1990. The national calculation, which includes part-time workers who sign on the register at job centres, is also a record low at 5.5 per cent.

One effect of this tight labour market is that young people are dropping out of training, with a quarter of millennials not finishing their apprenticeships, and nearly one-third of undergraduates not completing their courses. For the time being, however, German companies have managed to both to increase output and contain labour costs, while the rebound in eurozone growth more generally has boosted demand for their goods.

And that is the key feature of German growth. It is being driven by exports, not by domestic demand. The federal statistics office, Destatis, reported yesterday the economic numbers for the final quarter of last year, noting that while exports had risen, domestic demand has been stable. That makes it two consecutive quarters where home demand has not risen, something that last happened in 2011. Barclays put out a note on this yesterday, which observed that political uncertainty was taking its toll on domestic confidence. It did not expect this to change until the political outlook became clearer.

From the perspective of Britain, this is fascinating. Germany and the UK have been the two European economies that have recovered most strongly since the financial crash of 2008 and recession of 2009. Both have historically low levels of unemployment. But they have recovered in quite different ways. Germany has been driven by exports and has a huge current account surplus. At $281bn (£201bn) it is the largest in the world, equivalent to nearly 8 per cent of GDP. The UK’s growth has been driven by domestic demand, which has left it with a current account deficit of some 5 per cent of GDP.

Both situations are unsustainable, though the UK position is much more precarious. Germany has to lend other countries money so they can continue to buy its goods. The UK has to borrow from abroad to support its hunger for imports. Yet – and this is odd – the electorates in both countries appear divided and dissatisfied.

Leave the UK aside, for there is the special issue of Brexit which is confusing everything. In Germany at the last election the support for the two main parties and their allies was down to 54 per cent, the lowest in any federal election for more than half a century. It was a rejection of Angela Merkel, but it was also a rejection of conventional politics. Why on earth should voters in the most successful economy in Europe reject the leaders that brought them this success?

There can be no simple explanation, certainly not yet, but I think we can see elements of it. One is, of course, immigration, but the rejection is too widespread for that to be anything near a complete answer. I think there are two other important elements.

One is that while Germany has been good at creating jobs, it has not been so good at passing along the benefits of those jobs to the people doing them. Real living standards have risen very little in the past 15 years. Many jobs for the young are so-called mini-jobs, where people have to piece together a living from several part-time and low-paid posts. And the combination of fiscal responsibility (Germany has a fiscal surplus as well as a current account surplus) and the burden of supporting the former East Germany has led to a squeeze on public spending in the West. There is a fear that the transfer to East Germany will be repeated in wider transfers to the rest of Europe.

The other element is one of style, and this is common across all advanced democracies. Even politicians that seek to appear ordinary and in a way are, notably Angela Merkel, appear insulated and aloof. So voters want something different. Quite how they will get that is another matter.

Layoffs Arrive in Brexit Britain, and Auto Workers Are Up First — Globalization killing British industry?

February 16, 2018


By Suzi Ring and Christopher Jasper

Follow @Brexit on Twitter, join our Facebook group and sign up to our Brexit Bulletin.

In his 50 years working in Britain’s car industry, John Cooper has survived plenty of upheavals. None is scarier than the prospect of Brexit.

Being split off from their biggest market means the job cuts and production slowdown U.K. carmakers have imposed the past few months could be just a prelude to wholesale shutdowns.

The shock is only beginning to hit. Since October, 650 of Cooper’s colleagues have lost their jobs at the factory where Vauxhall Motors churns out Astra hatchbacks. The remaining 1,200 staff worry the plant may close if the U.K. loses tariff-free access to Europe. Across the River Mersey from Vauxhall’s factory, Jaguar Land Rover is planning production cuts.

“People shouldn’t underestimate the dangers that Brexit’s bringing,” Cooper, a union representative, said outside the sprawling factory in the town of Ellesmere Port, near Liverpool, where he’s worked since he was 18. “Why would Nissan continue to invest in the north east when it’s got a plant in Spain where it can build the same car without a 10 percent tariff?”

If Prime Minister Theresa May gets her way, by next year Britain will start severing ties with the bloc over a transition period, including quitting the customs union it’s been part of since 1973. Whether duties are imposed after that is still up in the air as London and Brussels wrangle over the terms of their divorce.

Tariffs and other hurdles to trade could be disastrous for the automotive industry since parts routinely move across borders several times during the manufacturing process. Take the BMW Mini, manufactured in Oxford. Before reaching the production line, each engine crankshaft is made in France, shipped to BMW’s U.K. engine plant in Hams Hall near Birmingham and then to Steyr, Austria for assembly.

The fate of the Vauxhall plant depends on whether its French parent company, PSA Group, decides to build the next Astra, a 2021 model, there. PSA, which bought Vauxhall from General Motors Co. last summer, has other options: it designs Peugeots and Citroens in France and Opels in Germany and could ship those to Britain with Astra logos.

Foreseeing these risks, Cooper had ardently campaigned against Brexit by canvassing workers at the plant, yet the leave vote still prevailed in the neighboring area—along with most of the other towns where U.K. carmakers operate factories.

Peter Southwood
Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

“It’s hard to see how anybody could sanely vote for anything that would make the business more difficult,” said Peter Southwood, 44, who’s worked at Vauxhall for 21 years. “They see the cars coming down the line, they see how many are going abroad, they see where the parts come from.”

Southwood’s grandfather and two uncles worked at Ellesmere Port and he hopes his son or daughter might uphold the tradition. But, Brexit or not, employment in Britain’s automobile industry isn’t what it used to be. In the heyday of the 1970s, 12,500 people worked at the Vauxhall plant. Headcount has since fallen 90 percent, largely due to automation.

The EU departure is dealing the industry an additional blow just as it scrambles to adjust to the transition into electric cars and government plans to phase out gas and diesel engines in the coming two decades. After touching a record in 2016, U.K. car sales suffered their biggest annual decline since 2009 last year as Brexit and the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal tarnished buyer confidence.

Not the Best Time to Buy

New car registrations in Britain fell most last year since the recession of 2009

Source: Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders

The cost of assembling a car in Britain could increase by 2,372 pounds ($3,337) under a so-called Hard Brexit, where a 10 percent tariff is imposed, according to estimates of London-based PA Consulting. Plant closures are most likely at Japanese-owned Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. since they export most of the cars they make in Britain, it said.

Foreign companies won’t stay “if there is no profitability of continuing operations in the U.K.,” Japan’s ambassador to the U.K., Koji Tsuruoka, said in an interview carried by BBC News this month. “It’s as simple as that. These are high stakes that I think all of us need to keep in mind.”

It will probably be too risky for both sides to let negotiations fall apart without a deal that allows goods to move between borders with few or no tariffs, according to Tim Lawrence, head of manufacturing at PA Consulting. “Britain is Europe’s second-biggest car market and it’s hugely important for EU companies like the German premium manufacturers,” he said.

But talks on trade haven’t even started—and the EU doesn’t expect a full detailed trade deal to be completed until after the U.K. has left.

In and around Ellesmere Port, a nerve center for the industry, workers are understandably anxious.

An Astra hatchback automobile sits in the lot at the Vauxhall Motors plant in Ellesmere Port.
Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

On a snowy day this month outside Jaguar’s Halewood plant where it makes Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport SUVs, several workers wearing green sweaters and trousers bearing the signature Jaguar cat logo said they’d been warned not to comment. One man said he’d voted to leave the EU because migrant workers crossing the bloc’s open borders had depressed U.K. wages. “I’m happy to get out of Europe, just not with the way the government have gone about it,” he said.

Another, 50-year-old Brian, was hopeful demand would pick up: “Rich people are still going to buy high-end cars,” he said. Owned by India’s Tata Motors, JLR is more shielded from Brexit because it exports a lot to the U.S. and China and a spokeswoman said new investments are planned at Halewood.

John Cooper
Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg

Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port site, by contrast, ships eight out of 10 cars to Europe, according to Cooper. He’s lobbying management for new production along with Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Britain’s national Unite union and an ally of opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The pair went to Paris last month to try to convince PSA Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares to grant two new models to Ellesmere Port. That’s the deal Cooper says is needed to guarantee survival, and both should include electric versions. Tavares hasn’t yet obliged. A Vauxhall spokesman said he couldn’t speculate.

After half a century at the plant, Cooper won’t give up without a fight. Vauxhall is an iconic brand in the U.K., appealing to Britons who want to support local industry and local jobs—something that, ironically, Brexit campaigners said leaving the EU would help safeguard.

“I don’t believe if you put a Vauxhall badge on a Peugeot 308 it would sell it in the same volume,” Cooper said. “I don’t want my legacy to be we didn’t get a car.”

— With assistance by Elisabeth Behrmann, and Hannah Recht

Boris Johnson: Let’s unite around Brexit vision

February 14, 2018

BBC News


Johnson: We need to get positive agenda across

Boris Johnson has told his fellow Brexiteers they should not “gloat” about the UK’s departure from the EU, which he said was a cause for “hope not fear”.

The foreign secretary urged people to “unite about what we all believe in”, an “outward-looking, confident” UK.

Leaving the EU was not a “great V-sign from the cliffs of Dover”, he said.

Mr Johnson also said the result cannot be reversed and that Britain should not be bound by EU rules after Brexit.

And he questioned the economic benefits of being in the EU single market and customs union, which the government plans to leave.

Mr Johnson was one of the leading figures in the 2016 Leave campaign, and has previously been accused of undermining Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy.

But he was on his “best behaviour” and “stuck rigidly to the script” with this speech in central London, BBC assistant political editor Norman Smith said.

Pro-EU campaigners hit back at his overtures to Remain voters – with Labour MP Chuka Umunna describing the speech as an “exercise in hypocrisy”.

And Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston accused him of an “optimism bias” about the benefits of Brexit.

In seeking to build bridges with the other side of the EU debate, Mr Johnson said he risked “simply causing further irritation” and accepted he would not “persuade everybody” but added: “I have to try. In the end these are people’s feelings and people’s feelings matter.”

Leaving the EU would allow the UK to play a greater role on the world stage, rather than becoming isolated, he said.

“We must accept that many [Remainers] are actuated by entirely noble sentiments, a real sense of solidarity with our European neighbours and a desire for the UK to succeed,” he said.

“If we are to carry this project through to national success – as we must – then we must also reach out to those who still have anxieties.

Lib Dem protestersImage copyrightPA
Image captionEx-Lib Dem MP Sarah Olney joined a protest outside Mr Johnson’s speech

“I want to try to anatomise at least some of those fears and to show to the best of my ability that they are unfounded and that the very opposite is usually true: that Brexit is not grounds for fear but hope.”

According to Mr Johnson, Brexit is “not some great V-sign from the cliffs of Dover”, but was “the expression of legitimate and natural desire to self govern of the people”.

“That is surely not some reactionary Farageist concept,” he added in a reference to the former UKIP leader.

Alongside his calls to Brexit supporters not to “gloat” and “sit back in silent satisfaction”, Mr Johnson said holding another referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU – as some campaigners are calling for – would be a “disastrous mistake that would lead to permanent and ineradicable feelings of betrayal”.

“Let’s not go there,” he said.

He also said the UK must regain control of its regulations and tariffs – and that continuing to be bound by EU directives would be “intolerable” and “undemocratic”.

Johnson: People’s feelings matter

Mr Johnson said the benefits of being in the single market and customs union were “nothing like as conspicuous or irrefutable” as claimed by their supporters, claiming other countries were able to trade with the EU without paying membership fees.

And arguing for independence on setting regulations for businesses, he said British people should not have laws affecting them “imposed from abroad” when they have no power to elect or remove the people making them.

However, during a transition period immediately after the UK leaves in March 2019 things would “remain as they are”, he said.

Mr Umunna, of the Open Britain campaign, said Mr Johnson had talked of taking back control – but that the government had withheld information about the impact of Brexit from Parliament.

“We are already a great country, we are already internationalist and we are already global,” he said.

Mr Johnson’s speech was the first in a series of speeches by Theresa May and her ministers on the “road to Brexit”.

The prime minister is expected to address the UK’s future relations with the EU in a speech in Munich on Saturday, the day after she holds talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Ministers are under pressure to spell out how they can square their desire for frictionless trade after Brexit with the UK’s exit from the single market and customs union, which EU officials say will create trade barriers.

By leaving the customs union, the UK has said it will have freedom to negotiate trade deals of its own during the transition period, while reducing tariffs on imports from developing countries.

Labour’s Yvette Cooper referred to a cross party committee when asked about her party’s plan on Brexit on Today

Meanwhile, a report by the Commons Home Affairs Committee has said the UK is ill-equipped to cope with changes to the immigration system after Brexit due to a lack of resources.

The government has yet to set out in detail what type of immigration model it wants to set up outside the EU, when it will no longer be bound by freedom of movement rules from Brussels.

The MPs warned this posed an “immense bureaucratic challenge” and that “rushed and under-resourced changes will put border security at risk”.

Includes videos:

Theresa May overrules Home Office mandarins to curb EU migration during Brexit transition

February 13, 2018
THERESA May has overruled Home Office civil servants to ensure EU migrants will not get the automatic right to remain in Britain permanently during the Brexit transition period, it emerged yesterday.

Brexit: EU migration proposals explained

The Prime Minister intervened after being told the department did not plan to introduce new immigration rules for at least two years following Brexit.

She rejected pleas from senior Whitehall officials that the new system would not be ready in time.

Mrs May wants to ensure that EU migrants who arrive after March 29, 2019 do not get the automatic right to settle permanently in the country – currently available under Brussels’ free movement rules.

News of Mrs May’s decision was being seen last night as confirmation that Downing Street is increasing efforts to secure Britain’s borders for Brexit.

Theresa MayGETTY

Theresa May overruled Home Office civil servants to curb migration during the Brexit transition

Amber RuddGETTY

Home Secretary Amber Rudd

The Home Office announced that a new system of registration will be ready in time for March 2019

The work has barely begun and I don’t think anyone has any confidence that such a new system can be ready for March next year

Government source

It follows warnings from the Migration Watch think-tank that around a million more EU citizens could get rights to settle in the UK permanently if new border rules are delayed for two years after Britain’s departure.

“The Home Office announced last summer that the system of registration would be introduced for people arriving after March 2019 – that work is well under way,” a Downing Street spokesman said.

“We are confident it will be finished on time.”

He was responding to suggestions from Whitehall sources that work on the new system was lagging behind.

Jacob Rees-MoggGETTY

Mr Rees-Mogg said delays to a new system would be an ‘admission of incompetence’ at the Home Office

One Government source had said: “That work has barely begun and I don’t think anyone has any confidence that such a new system can be ready for March next year.”

But senior Conservative backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the 60-strong European Reform Group of Eurosceptic MPs, rejected the claims about Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s department.

He said: “If this were true, it would be a sad admission of incompetence at the Home Office and it would be hard to believe that someone as efficient as Amber Rudd would accept such a sorry state of affairs.”

Varoufakis: Theresa May should STOP Brexit negotiations

The Home Office said: “The Prime Minister has been clear that during the implementation period there will be a registration system for EU citizens coming to the UK.

“The precise details of the implementation period are currently being negotiated with the EU, but planning is well under way.”Mrs May will deliver a speech on post-Brexit UK-EU security soon and will complete the process in three weeks’ time with an address on the overall relationship following a Cabinet withdrawal committee summit.

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.”

Japan issues stark warning on trade to Britain — May pitches trade with Britain after Brexit but China not buying

February 11, 2018
Koji Tsuruoaka, Japan's ambassador to Britain, warned that without a trade deal Japanese companies could leave the UK
Koji Tsuruoaka, Japan’s ambassador to Britain, warned that without a trade deal Japanese companies could leave the UK CREDIT: REUTERS

Japan has issued a stark warning to the Government over the risks Brexit poses to the county’s businesses operating in the UK.

Speaking after a Downing Street summit with 19 leaders from Japan’s biggest businesses with operations in the UK, the country’s ambassador raised the prospect of them pulling out of Britain.

“If there is no profitability of continuing operations in the UK – not Japanese only – then no private company can continue operations. It is as simple as that,” Ambassador Koji Tsuruoka said when asked whether Japanese companies could leave if no trade deal is agreed.

“This is all high stakes that all of us, I think, need to keep in mind,” the ambassador said, speaking outside No 10 following the meeting attended by Prime Minister Theresa May and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.

Theresa May leads the meeting with top representatives from Japanese businesses with Uk operations
Theresa May leads the meeting with top representatives from Japanese businesses with UK operations CREDIT: PA


Top executives from companies including car makers Nissan, Honda and Toyota were at the meeting, along with Japanese banks including Nomura, Mizuho and Sumitomo Mitsui. Japanese companies working in sectors including life sciences and technology in the UK were also represented.

According to data from the Department for International Trade, Japan is the UK’s 11th largest trading partner accounting for 2.1pc of total trade. The most recent annual figures show Japanese investment into the UK hit £46.5bn in 2016, up 12.7pc on the previous year.

Nissan’s giant plant at Sunderland employs more than 7,000 staff – and several times that in the supply chain – producing half a million cars a year. The vast majority of the factory’s output is exported to Europe.

Because 80pc of all cars built in the UK are sold overseas, the automotive sector has been one of the most vocal calling for a “frictionless” trade deal, warning that tariffs and customs barriers could make it uncompetitive – potentially leading to plants such as Honda’s in Swindon and Toyota’s two in Wales and Derbyshire being shuttered.

Nissan Sunderland plant
Nissan’s Sunderland plant exports the vast bulk of the 500,000 cars it builds annually CREDIT: GETTY

When Japanese business were first lured to Britain 30 years ago, one of the key attractions was free trade access to European markets, something which could be under threat from Brexit.

In 2016 Nissan’s boss at the time, Carlos Ghosn, visited No 10 for talks with Mrs May, saying he had “received assurances” from the Prime Minister that left him “confident the Government will continue to ensure the UK remains a competitive place to do business.  I look forward to continued positive collaboration between Nissan and the UK Government.”

Shortly after Nissan announced it would build two new models at Sunderland, which was hailed as the first major foreign investment decisions since the referendum.

It remains unknown exactly what assurances were given to convince Mr Ghosn to make the huge investment to produce the new cars at Sunderland. The company is now run by Hiroto Saikawa.

In a statement before the meeting, Mr Fox said: “As we take control of our trade policy for the first time in 40 years, it’s important that we build upon our strong trade relationships with global partners like Japan.

“As an international economic department, engaging with Japanese buyers and investors is a key part of showcasing what the UK offers the world. Every penny of investment secured boosts local economies and creates new jobs back in the UK.”


May pitches trade with Britain after Brexit but China not buying

In the wake of the 2016 Brexit referendum, Theresa May is seeking new deals for an unmoored Britain. Without the EU’s backing, the UK prime minister’s negotiating position is diminished, Frank Sieren writes.

China: Theresa May and Xi Jinping

It must be hard to be in Theresa May’s shoes these days. There’s little breakthrough in sight in Brexit negotiations with the European Union, and, though new numbers have since emerged, studies into the economic damage that could occur once Brexit is complete have further fueled the rows at home. Britain needs to boost ties with its non-EU partners. Ahead of the 2016 referendum, Brexit’s proponents argued that Britain would benefit from bilateral agreements once it left the European Union. May was hoping that this would turn out to be true when she became the first European leader to visit Donald Trump after he became the US president. Her recent first state visit to China was in the same vein.

There was pressure at home for May to raise China’s poor human rights record during her visit. In an open letter, Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, urged her to discuss the former colony, which has faced threats to basic freedoms, human rights and its autonomy since the United Kingdom handed control over to China’s government.

May voiced mild criticism behind closed doors, but she was praised by state media for sidestepping rights discussions

The prime minister’s agenda focused more on investment possibilities and securing a free trade agreement ahead of Brexit.

“There are huge trade opportunities in China that we want to help British businesses take advantage of,” May said.

May’s ‘golden era’?

The business delegation was the largest that Britain’s government had ever taken overseas.

There was renewed talk of a “golden era” in Sino-British relations at a meeting that May held with her Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, and President Xi Jinping  — much as had been discussed when Xi visited the UK in 2015 for negotiations with her predecessor, David Cameron. London was draped in red to welcome Xi, and plenty of deals were made. There were advantages for both sides: China would invest in Britain, which in turn would put in a good word for its new partner in Brussels.

Britain can no longer put in a good word for Beijing. And yet it needs Chinese investments more than ever. China has put almost €17 million into its UK endeavors in the past five years.

China’s government would have preferred for Britain to remain in the EU, and officials made this clear ahead of the Brexit referendum. After voters made their decision, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei warned that the result would “cast a shadow over the global economy.”

Lou had domestic firms in mind. China Telecom and China Unicom, the Bank of China, Sinopec, and many companies have their European offices in London — it used to be an ideal location for access to the EU market. Post-Brexit Britain is less interesting to China and thus less influential on the world stage.

Britain’s room for maneuvering has decreased. Deals amounting to over €10 billion ($12 billion) were signed during May’s visit — including one in which Chinese investors pledged over a billion euros in funding commitments to two British venture capital firms (Future Planet Capital and Eight Great Technologies) that are specialized in biotech and medicine.

China can afford to cherry-pick now. And the result is that May’s success was muted by comparison to Xi’s visit in 2015, when deals worth upward of €56 billion were signed.