Tag Archives: Brexit

David Davis’ leaked letter is embarrassing

The leaked letter sent to Theresa May by Brexit Secretary David Davis’ in which he complained about the European Union discriminating against Britain was not only embarrassing but also damaging. It has done nothing to foster good relations or to help things at the negotiating table. Instead it shows Davis to be, as Jonathan Liss, Deputy Director of British Influence, wrote in the Guardian as petulant.

His main criticism is that the EU is not giving enough consideration to more favourable outcomes following Brexit. What on earth does he expect? While David Davis is busy burying his head in the sand, failing to carry out impact assessments, due diligence or preparing for alternative outcomes to the one he and the Government favours his opposite negotiators are preparing professionally for all possible scenarios.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament Brexit Co-ordinator responded to Davis’ claims that the EU is damaging the UK’s economic interest before it’s left the Union stating that the UK Government only had itself to blame and was responsible for damaging the UK’s economic interests. The EU is simply acting on the threats issued by Davis – the mantra we hear with ever greater frequency “no deal is better than a bad deal”. Rather than bluffing, penning petulant letters to his boss or issuing idle threats about legal action David Davis should confront the situation which is entirely of the British Government’s own making. Nobody else can possibly be blamed, surely?

David Davis must move on from this embarrassing note before he completely erodes any form of cordiality or trust which will only serve to further hamper the fragile negotiating process-a position he has created and further enhanced by the publication of this silly and infantile leaked letter.

Of course, the only sensible course of action is to remain in the EU. No deal can possibly be as good as the one we have through being a member of the European Union.

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Brexit Chaos and the Will of the People

I have never known such chaos in government. I speak as someone who was a Labour Party member in the dim and distant 1970s when a Labour Prime Minister, James Callaghan, like Theresa May, presided over a minority administration. True, Callaghan brought us the winter of discontent. However, prior to this ignominious end and after securing a loan from the International Monetary Fund, the 1974 – 79 Labour government carried out a number of reforms – establishing the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), SERPS (state earnings related pension scheme), plus an invalidity pension amongst many other social measures. It was a difficult time but the Labour government delivered.

Compare this to the current mess. Brexit is the biggest issue to face the United Kingdom since the country joined the Common Market in 1973, later confirmed in a referendum in 1975. In charge we have the most divided and incompetent minority administration since Ramsay MacDonald’s National Government in 1930.

I truly fear for our country. The catalogue of errors and chaos is legion: a Prime Minister who doesn’t seem to know whether she is coming or going, a recent reshuffle which had all the power of a damp squib, a divided Cabinet with no idea of what it wants Brexit to look like on top of a disastrous general election and a hopeless Prime Ministerial speech at the Tory Conference. In the interests of brevity, I will stop here.

The Twitter hashtag #brexitshambles is kind. Chaos and confusion without end would be more accurate.

The Labour Opposition in the House of Commons isn’t much better, though hopefully it may be moving away from the “will of the people” mantra.

The fact is that the kind of Brexit that may be emerging from the Tory chaos in no way reflects what the referendum campaign was about. There is no £350 a week for the NHS – in fact there is a massive winter crisis. There is as yet no sign of any trade deal. Britain is not ‘taking back control’. In fact all we are seeing is pathetic pleas by a country of 60 million people to a trading bloc of 500 million.

The Government and the Opposition should take more notice of the closeness of the referendum result. The Tories do not have meaningful support for a ‘hard’ Brexit and Labour would do well to remember that much of its support comes from young people in Britain’s major cities the majority of whom voted Labour because they thought Labour would stay in the European Union.

Division and disunity are rarely positive. Britain deserves better. The least damaging way forward would be to maintain the status quo and remain in the EU until the true will of the British people becomes clearer.

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Government pays platitudes to the Business community on VAT payments

Platitudes were paid to the hundreds of thousands of businesses which are
set to be hit by the new rules stating VAT must be paid upfront on
imported goods from the European Union following Brexit.

During yesterday’s debate in Parliament, Mel Stride, a Treasury Minister
said, “It is an issue, (for) which the government and the Treasury has
sympathy. “It is something that we will be closely looking at.”

But those affected don’t want the Treasury’s sympathy they want an
assurance that their businesses won’t be jeopardised, or jobs threatened
because of cash flow problems which will arise from the requirement to make VAT payments up front.

Following yesterday’s debate business groups warned that companies may be forced to look at costly bank or insurance guarantees if they are expected to make the payments upfront.

The chair of the Treasury Select Committee acknowledged the problem and assured Parliament that her committee will be considering the issue…and this is probably the closest we will get to anything akin to an impact assessment.

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Brexit has an unworkable timetable

When Norway held its referendum to join the EU in 1994, the results were very similar to the UK’s to leave, being 52% against joining to 48% in favour. It was, however, a fair vote and a truthful campaign and the status quo won.

In the spirit of reasonableness and wishing to heal the divisions, Norway’s politicians at the time sought to compromise and come up with a settlement which took on board the fact that the country was divided on the issue.

In stark contrast, Theresa May’ decision to go with the hard-line Brexiteers reflected her desire to pacify noisy elements in her own Party. We are all now paying the price for both her and David Cameron’s unprincipled actions.

Incredible though it may seem, there is effectively only 10 months to go before the EU and the UK hope to sign off a formal “divorce” agreement and some kind of outline of a future trading relationship by October this year. This timetable would allow the 27 remaining EU countries to approve the package before the Article 50 deadline runs out at the end of March 2019.

Put starkly in black and white this looks an impossible task. Trade talks have not yet started, and given it took seven years to negotiate the much vaunted trade deal with Canada, 10 months is surely an impossibility.

The truly intractable problems, at least it you’re a Brexiteer or a Theresa May will o’ the wisp, such as the border with the Republic of Ireland and Gibraltar, are unlikely to go away by October. Incredibly May and Davis continue to insist that a “creative”, “deep and special” relationship holding on to most of the benefits of EU membership is within their grasp. In your dreams, Mrs. May. The EU has made it clear that unless the UK changes its tune, the final outcome can only be a trade deal along the lines of Canada’s, plus some extra cooperation in areas such as defence and justice but with customs barriers and little provision for services.

This is the biggest political muddle I can ever remember, and it’s the British people who are suffering. The 52% who voted leave expected extra money for the NHS not a staggering winter crisis, and no-one voted to be poorer, now happening as inflation rises.

Come on Mrs. May, come on Jeremy Corbyn. The UK will never get a deal that’s as good as actually being a member of the EU. That is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.


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Businesses to be hit by tough VAT rules following Brexit

Statement from Mary Honeyball MEP

8 January 2018 LONDON

Businesses to be hit by tough VAT rules following Brexit – The Government
need to commission immediate impact assessments”

More than 130,000 firms are expected to be hit when new rules, and red
tape, stipulating businesses must pay VAT upfront on imported goods come
into force, if Britain leaves the EU.*

As the UK Parliament today debates the issue, Mary Honeyball, MEP London,
warned:  “Everyday there is a new unforeseen consequence of Brexit which
is hitting small and medium size businesses, in particular, very hard.

“It’s only recently we discovered the Government has not done any impact
assessments or due diligence in this area (as well as many others). Even
at this 11th hour the Government should commission immediate impact
assessments across the whole range of industries goods and services.

“This is a huge shift which will have a massive and detrimental impact on
thousands upon thousands of businesses which we were never told about
during the referendum campaign.

“The impact cannot be underestimated particularly for small businesses,
but which remain above the VAT threshold.

“Many companies simply don’t have that sort of cashflow available and it
could seriously jeopardise their ability to operate and it will cost


Notes to editors:

Call: Sarah MacKinlay for further information 07956443393 or email

*Currently firms which register with HMRC can import some goods from the
EU free of VAT, with the charge being added to the price of the product
and paid by the customer. Under the new system firms will have to pay the
levy upfront then claim it back later.


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Why hard Brexit is a damaging fantasy

Martin Woolf in yesterday’s online Financial Times https://www.ft.com/content/939c7ed0-8e32-11e6-a72e- hit the nail on the head:

“Formal sovereignty is not power. The UK government announces its intentions. The reaction of others determines results.

“By a thin margin the country voted for some kind of Brexit. But the government has no mandate for the rather extreme version it is choosing. Triggering Article 50 without parliamentary approval might be impossible. It surely ought to be impossible. Moreover, Brexiters insist that their goal is to restore parliamentary sovereignty. Why then does the government plan to ignore parliament when these decisions are taken?”

It’s actually worse than that since Government Ministers also seem to be ignoring their officials, taking the Leave side’s contempt for “experts” to a new low. Brexit Minister David Davis is now accusing Treasury civil servants of trying to undermine Brexit negotiations as part of a “desperate strategy” to keep Britain in the single market. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/11/david-davis-accuses-treasury-officials-of-trying-to-undermine-br/

 The redoubtable Mr Davis whose capacity for fantasy is on an exponentially upward leap, is understood to believe that the warning is part of a “succession of treasury briefings that are damaging negotiations”

Whatever Mr Davis thinks, the Treasury is not making this up. Why would they? Surely their lives would be easier if they went along with the Government and threw the well-being of Britain to the winds. Instead, the much derided officials are doing their duty, warning , amongst other things, that according to leaked draft Cabinet papers, if Britain leaves the Single Market without a new deal it will cost the Treasury £66billion in tax revenues.

Meanwhile the City of London, one time cheer-leaders for the Conservatives, are increasingly worried about the impact tougher immigration controls and departure from the single market could have on their revenues. Miles Celic, chief executive of the influential industry body TheCityUK is on record as saying: A “hard Brexit” that takes Britain clean out of the single market, and leaves the U.K. to trade with the EU under WTO rules, will do “significant” harm to the financial services sector.”

Back to Martin Woolf: “What drove Leavers was, we are also told, “the principle that decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK”. The currency markets demonstrate the emptiness of that principle. Britain’s EU partners are about to do the same. The premise of the Leave campaign was false: a host of decisions that affect the UK will always be taken outside it.”

It would be comic if it wasn’t so serious. We are not talking about cosy sofa politics or even the Oxford Union debating society. This is about people’s lives, their quality of life, their health, their education and just about everything else which relies on government to deliver it. Ultimately, it’s about today’s young people and future generations.


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What exactly was the Brexit manifesto?

The European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP) has raised concerns over the future of Britain’s immediate involvement of the European Membership and our current membership following the referendum.

There are, the EPLP warns, “two unpalatable options”. These are currently being contemplated but both of options are problematic. Some believe we can exit the European Union but retain membership to the European Single Market. The issue with this is that in order to gain full access, Britain must accept the common rules, and this means it will no longer have a say over future changes. A further consideration is that one of the central points of many leave campaigners was the issue of free movement of labour.

The free movement of labour, is part of the strict criteria which members must sign up to if they are to enjoy membership to and trade in the single market. It is very likely therefore that the UK would need to accept free movement as part of the terms.

The other alternative advocated by some ‘Brexiteers’ was to leave the single market entirely. In this scenario the damage to the economy will be significant, not least because we would face tariffs on exports to the EU.

In addition, many current trade agreements we have in place globally will need to be replaced because these deals were agreed as part of our relationship with the EU. They were made centrally by the European Union. So the UK would need to rapidly re negotiate trade agreements to replace these.

Although the result of the referendum was to end our membership of the European Union, there is no explicit mandate for what happens next as my colleague Richard Corbett MEP has pointed out.

The problem with the Brexit campaign, as we now know, is that there was no clear plan offered for life post Brexit. Neither was there a clear manifesto and as a result the next steps are muddy and unclear. A full debate in the British Parliament is therefore essential.

Richard Corbett said yesterday: “The idea that the recent referendum has completely settled the issue is surely dead. Referendums are supposed to settle issues. But does the UK look settled and calm?”

The new Prime Minister has a huge task ahead of her (or him) and how s/he directs the narrative and the first stage of negotiations is crucial, but first Parliament must hold a full and in depth debate about the future of negotiations.

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