Theresa May indicates UK may enter an “implementation phase” after Brexit
Speaking to the House of Commons Liaison Committee yesterday, Prime Minister Theresa May refused to confirm whether Parliament will be given a vote on the final Brexit deal. When pressed further she said, “Parliament is going to have every opportunity to vote through the Great Repeal Bill on the various aspects of the relationship that we will be having with the European Union,” adding, “but I’m clear we deliver on the vote of the people.” May also insisted that the Government is not seeking to extend the Article 50 process, however, she said, “it may be the case that there are some practical aspects which require a period of implementation thereafter…That is what we will need, not just for us but for businesses on the continent and others…We will discuss whether we need an implementation phase.” She continued, “That’s what business has been commenting on and arguing for. When they use the phrase about not having a cliff edge…there is a practical aspect of how you ensure that people are able to adjust to the new relationship which is not about trying to delay the point at which we leave and is not about trying to extend the period of negotiation.” May also confirmed that she will set out more details of the Government’s approach to Brexit in a speech early in the New Year.
Nicola Sturgeon “determined to maintain Scotland’s current position in the European single market”
Speaking at the publication of a report titled ‘Scotland’s Place in Europe,’ Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and leader of the SNP, said that she was “determined to maintain Scotland’s current position in the European single market.” Sturgeon said that the referendum result had raised questions “not just about our relationship with Europe but also about how political power is exercised across the UK,” and that it would inevitably lead to the UK’s devolution settlement being “fundamentally revised.” The report outlined a number of options for preserving Single Market membership, including Scotland remaining within the European Economic Area (EEA) and the EU Customs Union, or joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) as a full or associate member and then seeking to become part of the EEA-EFTA agreement. Sturgeon added that the options outlined do not prejudice her “preferred option of independence” for Scotland as a means of remaining in the Single Market.
Separately, answering questions from MPs on the House of Commons’ Liaison Committee, the Prime Minister Theresa May said that the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) would discuss “the different interests of the devolved administrations and the different devolution deals currently in place,” but that she would seek “a United Kingdom approach and a United Kingdom relationship with the European Union.” May rejected “differential relationships” between the EU and the constituent parts of the UK, saying, “The single market of the United Kingdom is worth four times as much to Scotland as the single market of the European Union,” adding that an independent Scotland would be a member of neither.
Source: Press Association
CBI calls for “barrier-free” trade with EU and “whole economy approach” to Brexit
Following a consultation with its members, The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) have published a report saying, “There are some companies for whom avoiding high tariffs on their goods trade is critical and others who prioritise avoiding non-tariff barriers to trade, particularly around services. Critically, it is clear that, for the UK’s modern, interdependent economy, additional barriers to any sector’s trade will be detrimental to other sectors.” It adds, “A new arrangement with the EU must therefore be open and comprehensive, covering goods and services, tariffs and non-tariff barriers…The Government will need to take a ‘whole economy’ approach to avoid leaving sectors behind.”
Source: Press Association
May: China visit to herald “golden era” of relations with UK
Following a visit by Yang Jiechi, China’s State Councillor, Theresa May has promised a “golden era” of relations between the UK and China in which trade would be a priority.
The Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said of the visit, “As two global powers, the UK and China are building economies of the future underpinned by the rule of law that enables the business environment. I am committed to intensifying our trade relationship, including more market access for UK service exports and more Chinese investment in the UK.” Johnson added, “the links between our people continue to grow. The number of Chinese tourists visiting Britain has more than doubled over the last five years and we currently welcome over 140,000 Chinese students to our world-class educational institutions here in the UK. Here in the UK more and more young people are learning Chinese, positioning the UK in an ever more global marketplace.”
Source: Press Association
New report warns Brexit uncertainty could deter EU nursing staff from the UK
A study by the Institute of Employment studies yesterday warned, “Given the current uncertainty around the status of EU workers, many EU nurses may voluntarily choose not to take up positions in the UK, while those already working here could make plans to return home if they feel unwelcome or no longer see a future in the UK.”
Separately, the President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Clare Marx, yesterday said, “As part of the EU, we’ve had to accept laws and regulation on issues such as language testing of non-UK staff, professional qualifications, working time and the safety of medical devices and drugs which perhaps fell short of our own standards…Brexit allows us to correct this.”
UK Security Commissioner recommends UK and EU “cooperating as effectively as you can”
In an interview with Politico, Julian King, the UK Commissioner for the European Security Union, said “Member states and member states’ agencies are in the front line… we’re not in the business of replacing or getting in the way of member states’ agencies on first responders… [Terrorists] don’t care whether you are a member of the European Union or a member of Schengen or not. They are targeting our way of life, and that’s why we need to stand together in its defence.” On Brexit, King said, “I welcome the fact that the British government have indicated that whatever the future relationship between the UK and the EU 27, they want to, they are interested in, continuing in, maybe even developing, cooperation around law enforcement and counter-terrorism.”
Germany and European Commission at odds over child benefit payments
German Vice-Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel is calling for the reduction of benefit payments for children of EU migrants not living in Germany. He said that children of EU migrants who reside abroad should only be paid an allowance “at the level of the home country.” In response, the European Commission for Employment and Social Affairs Marianne Thyssen said, “We don’t see any reason to change the system for child benefit payments. It is fair to receive the same benefits when you pay the same contributions in a system.” She also argued that Germany would save “less than 0.1% of annual child benefit payments – in return for an extremely bureaucratic and complicated system with 27 different levels of claims.”
EU expected to approve plans to modernise the EU-Turkey customs union
European Commissioners are expected to approve a proposal today to modernise the EU-Turkey customs union. European Parliament Vice-President Alexander Graf Lambsdorff said, “It’s about hard economic interest…By negotiating the modernisation of the customs union, we have a carrot in our hands.” An EU official quoted in Politico said, “The Turks are now putting pressure on the customs agreement rather than on visa liberalisation.”
Gangmaster forced to pay £1 million in compensation to Lithuanian migrants over poor conditions
The Times reports that a gangmaster couple have agreed to a settlement worth more than £1m in compensation and legal costs in the first High Court action brought by migrants over modern-day slavery. The deal was reached with six Lithuanian migrants working as chicken catchers who had not been paid the minimum wage and had endured poor working conditions.
Source: The Times