I hope you all had a good Christmas and Hogmanay and are now rested for what promises to be a busy 2018. If we are to have a deal it must be concluded within the next ten months or there will not be sufficient time for the European Council and Parliament to ratify the deal before the March 2019 exit date. There is an awful lot to be done in that time and it is going to be a big ask to get the deal done.
These negotiations mean that Brexit is going to become far more real to people as the lies and wishful thinking of the Leave campaign collide with reality. Things are going to be unpredictable and fast moving. Even this week Nigel Farage and the Leave.eu campaign headed by Aaron Banks have called for a second EU referendum! Who would have bet on that last week?
Frankly, I am not sure we are there yet. If there was a feeling in England that the Brexit vote was somehow stolen, especially by a liberal elite aided and abetted by the Scots and the Irish, then it would put rocket boosters on the next iteration of UKIP – which would be more like Britain First – and we would be back here again in a few years’ time. I wrote more about this in response to a piece from Kirsty Hughes of the Scottish Centre for European Relations, you can read her piece here
and mine here:
I’ve always been clear that EU membership, ideally as an independent state but even as part of the UK, is in Scotland’s best interests. In the EU referendum, Scotland voted to remain. This is our starting point and our clear position. In 2018 I will continue to do everything possible to make that a reality.
This week, Bruce Crawford MSP, Convener of Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee confirmed that “The committee is unanimous in its view that it is not in a position to recommend Legislative Consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill.”
David Davis - having repeatedly threatened a no deal scenario - bizarrely now seems surprised that the EU is starting to prepare for one.
I could not put it better than the EU Commission spokesperson: “We are surprised that the UK is surprised that we are preparing for a scenario announced by the UK government itself”.
David Davis and Philip Hammond have been in Germany pleading for a special deal for financial services.
But Germany’s position has always been clear: the integrity of the Single Market comes first.
A new study has revealed that international students are worth about 10 times more to the UK economy than they cost the taxpayer.
The Mayor of London has published research showing that a hard Brexit could result in losing almost £50bn in UK-wide investment by 2030.
The UK is cutting the number of diplomats in Asia because of the need for more diplomats to work on Brexit.
The UK is apparently considering applying to join the Trans Pacific Partnership after Brexit. Joining an agreement focussed on trade on the other side of the world will not replace losing our membership of one of the world’s largest single markets that is on our doorstep.
Michael Gove is being forced to continue existing farm payments for 5 years.
A number of MEPs from across the political spectrum have urged Theresa May to stay in the Single Market.
Around 132,000 UK firms could face paying VAT upfront for goods imported from the EU after Brexit.
GlaxoSmithKline has warned that up to £70m will be diverted from developing new cancer drugs as the company prepares for the impact of Brexit.
Finally, Michel Barnier delivered an important speech outlining his views on the future deal between the UK and the EU. They are well worth reading, particularly the last line.
“What kind of future relationship does the UK want with the European Union?
“We don't yet have the answer to this question. However, we can proceed by deduction, based on the Union's legal system and the UK's red lines. By officially drawing these red lines, the UK is itself closing the doors, one by one.
“The British government wants to end the free movement of persons, which is indivisible from the other three freedoms. It has therefore indicated its intention of leaving the Single Market.
“The British government wants to recover its independence to negotiate international agreements. It has therefore confirmed its intention of leaving the Customs Union.
“The UK no longer wishes to recognise the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which guarantees the application of our common rules.
“It follows that the only model possible is a free trade agreement, which could obviate the need for trade barriers, such as customs duties, and could facilitate customs procedures and product certification.
“This will of course be adapted to the specificities of the relationship between the EU and the UK, in the same way that our agreement with Canada is not identical to our agreements with Korea or Japan.
“But one thing is clear: a free trade agreement, however ambitious, cannot include all the benefits of the Customs Union and the Single Market.”