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and finally …

The UK left the European Union at 11:00 pm GMT on 31 January 2020.

The UK has now entered a Transition Period with the European Union during which the UK will no longer be a member of the European Union but will continue to be subject to European Union rules and remain a member of its single market and customs union.

UK MEPs have left the European Union Parliament, and the UK will no longer attend European Union Council meetings. During the transition period, freedom of movement will remain in place and citizens’ rights will continue unaffected until the end of the period. In addition, the UK will still be subject to European Union law and the rulings of the European Union Court of Justice throughout the period.

The transition period will last until 31 December 2020 and allows time for the UK and European Union to determine their on-going future relationship, particularly in respect of Trade and Co-operation.

The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) was a ministerial department from 14 July 2016 to 31 January 2020. It was responsible for overseeing negotiations to leave the European Union and has now been closed.

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-exiting-the-european-union

In leaving the European Union, the Prime Minister made the following statement to the nation:

Tonight we are leaving the European Union.

For many people this is an astonishing moment of hope, a moment they thought would never come

And there are many of course who feel a sense of anxiety and loss

And then of course there is a third group – perhaps the biggest – who had started to worry that the whole political wrangle would never come to an end

I understand all those feelings, and our job as the government – my job – is to bring this country together now and take us forward

And the most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning

This is the moment when the dawn breaks and the curtain goes up on a new act in our great national drama

And yes it is partly about using these new powers – this recaptured sovereignty – to deliver the changes people voted for

Whether that is by controlling immigration or creating freeports or liberating our fishing industry or doing free trade deals

Or simply making our laws and rules for the benefit of the people of this country

And of course I think that is the right and healthy and democratic thing to do

Because for all its strengths and for all its admirable qualities, the EU has evolved over 50 years in a direction that no longer suits this country

And that is a judgment that you, the people, have now confirmed at the polls

Not once but twice

And yet this moment is far bigger than that

It is not just about some legal extrication

It is potentially a moment of real national renewal and change

This is the dawn of a new era in which we no longer accept that your life chances – your family’s life chances – should depend on which part of the country you grow up in

This is the moment when we really begin to unite and level up

Defeating crime, transforming our NHS, and with better education, with superb technology

And with the biggest revival of our infrastructure since the Victorians

We will spread hope and opportunity to every part of the UK

And if we can get this right I believe that with every month that goes by we will grow in confidence not just at home but abroad

And in our diplomacy, in our fight against climate change,

In our campaigns for human rights or female education or free trade we will rediscover muscles that we have not used for decades

The power of independent thought and action

Not because we want to detract from anything done by our EU friends – of course not

We want this to be the beginning of a new era of friendly cooperation

Between the EU and an energetic Britain.

A Britain that is simultaneously a great European power

And truly global in our range and ambitions

And when I look at this country’s incredible assets

Our scientists, our engineers, our world-leading universities, our armed forces

When I look at the potential of this country waiting to be unleashed

I know that we can turn this opportunity into a stunning success

And whatever the bumps in the road ahead

I know that we will succeed

We have obeyed the people

We have taken back the tools of self-government

Now is the time to use those tools to unleash the full potential of this brilliant country and to make better the lives of everyone in every corner of our United Kingdom.

Jeremy Corbyn – Documents about US-UK trade talks

by Politicker 0 Comments

In a press conference on 27 November 2019, Jeremy Corbyn has revealed unredacted documents about secret US-UK trade talks.

from the Labour Party website

https://labour.org.uk/press/jeremy-corbyn-reveals-unredacted-documents-about-secret-us-uk-trade-talks/

Speaking at the press conference, he said:

If you watched the first TV debate between me and Boris Johnson, you’ll have seen me hold up these censored, blacked-out reports of secret US-UK talks about breaking open our NHS to US corporations and driving up the cost of medicines. You’ll have seen Boris Johnson lose his cool, very angrily react saying it was “an absolute invention” and “completely untrue.” He told the country there were “no circumstances whatsoever in which his government or any Conservative government” would put the NHS on the table in any trade negotiations.

What I have here is something I can reveal to you 451 pages of unredacted documents and information. All of it here. His government released this [holds up redacted version]. We have since obtained this [holds up unredacted version]. Which is a very different version of events.

Perhaps he’d like to explain why these documents confirm the US is demanding the NHS is on the table in the trade talks?

These uncensored documents leave Boris Johnson’s denials in absolute tatters. Voters need to ask themselves some very serious questions: is the NHS safe in Boris Johnson’s hands? We’ve now got evidence that under Boris Johnson the NHS is on the table and will be up for sale. He tried to cover it up in a secret agenda but today it’s been exposed. Now we know the truth, when Johnson says, ‘get Brexit done’, it’s a fraud on the British people. This is the reality. Years of bogged down negotiations and our NHS is up for sale.

This election is now a fight for the survival of our National Health Service. As a public service free for all at the point of need.

So for the want of any doubt, let me give this reassurance: Labour will never ever treat our NHS as a bargaining chip in trade talks with anybody. We will never let Donald Trump get his hands on our NHS. Because our NHS is not for sale.

These reports cover six rounds of talks running from July 2017 until just a few months ago. The meetings took place in both Washington DC and London. The six rounds should be taken as one ongoing negotiation. We are talking here about secret talks for a deal with Donald Trump after Brexit. A deal that will shape our country’s future.

These reports pull back the curtain on the secrecy that’s being plotted for us all, behind closed doors, by the Conservative government. This is what they didn’t want you to know. So let me take you through some key points.

Let me begin with medicine pricing. Remember, Labour and experts said big US corporations want to force up the price our NHS pays for drugs as part of the toxic deal being negotiated with Trump. The Conservatives said this was nonsense. The documents show that we were right. In fact, negotiations have advanced even further than we feared they had. The US and UK have already finished initial discussion on lengthening patents for medicines.

Longer patents mean only one thing – more expensive drugs. Lives will be put at risk as a result of this. Many out-of-patent medicines available cheaply here are vastly more expensive under patent law in the US. The drug Humira for Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis costs our NHS £1,409 a packet. In the US, the same packet costs £8,115. Get the difference – £1,409 in our NHS, £8,115 in the USA. One of the reasons for US drug prices being on average 250% of those here is a patent regime rigged for the big pharmaceutical companies.

Dr Andrew Hill has warned the NHS could have to hand over £500 million a week more for medicines following a toxic Trump deal.

If you look at the readout of the second meeting, on page 51, UK officials report that “patent issues” around “NHS access to generic drugs will be a key consideration” in talks. US officials have “pushed hard,” the reports says, for longer patents for US drug companies. You can also see on page 132 of the report of the fourth meeting, where drug patents are being discussed, that officials are ready to “exchange text” which is trade-negotiator-speak for it being at a very advanced stage. And they say they are ready to, I quote, “really take significant further steps.”

Let’s be frank, the US is not going to negotiate to sell its own medicines for less. President Trump himself never tires of complaining about what he calls the “unreasonably low prices” other countries pay for medicines. The White House even has a webpage attacking so-called “foreign freeloading” – that’s what they’re accusing our NHS of. Big pharma has ripped off and imperilled the health of the American people for years. Now these secret reports show they’re looking to do the same to us – if the Conservatives are elected on December 12th.

Labour has been warning that NHS services will also be on the table in trade talks for a sell-out deal with Trump. After all, that’s exactly what Trump said when he visited this country in June. He said and I quote: “When you’re dealing in trade, everything is on the table NHS or anything else.” The Tories have denied it, but the documents show that on this occasion, Trump was right and so were we. The new breed of trade deals are not only – or even mainly – about tariffs on goods at the border. They are also about services – including our health service. And these documents make clear that for the US, to quote page 41 of the third meeting report, “everything is included unless something is specifically excluded.”

They want, I quote: “Total market access” as the “baseline assumption of the trade negotiations.”

“Total market access.”

But surely you can’t believe that British officials would demand the NHS be excluded? Apparently not. In fact, on behalf of the Conservative government, officials reassured their counterparts that “the US should expect the UK to be a liberalising influence” and that together they could “fly the good flag for services liberalisation.” That’s a green light for breaking open Britain’s public services so corporations can profit from. So now we know, direct from the secret reports that they never wanted you to see.

The US is demanding that our NHS is on the table in negotiations for a toxic deal – it’s already being talked about in secret. That could lead to runaway privatisation of our health service. Mega-corporations see Johnson’s alliance with Trump as a chance to make billions from the illness and sickness of people in this country. And if the Conservatives have their way and this deal goes forward, the changes I’ve revealed will be almost irreversible.

Officials have discussed a system to give corporations the power to sue our country. This is not only a plot against our NHS. It is a plot against the whole country. These sell-out negotiations with Trump cover everything from food safety, to gender discrimination rules, to workers’ rights. I’ll leave it to you journalists as experts to comb through these secret reports and expose the biggest threats. But let me give you a few pointers.

How about chlorine-washed chicken on our dinner tables?

Have a look at the second meeting, on page 42 and 43, where the US even agrees to share its “public lines” to help our government with its “media narratives.”

You might want to look at how Trump’s America absolutely refuses, absolutely refuses, to even mention climate change in the deal – see the second meeting, page 17.

On page one of meeting six for the US advocating a No Deal Brexit saying that would mean there’d be “all to play for” in a deal with Trump.

What’s at stake in a deal with Trump could not be more important for our country. In this election the Conservatives want you to vote blind, keeping millions of us in the dark about their plans. But these reports, first obtained in censored form by campaigners in this room, shine a light on this plot.

So it seems to me that it’s now on Boris Johnson to explain how all of this is an “absolute invention.” you heard his words on the video we just showed. To explain why he denied the very things we can now read in black and white. He must now come clean about the Conservatives’ sell-out plans are for our NHS. Labour will not let this rest because, unlike the Conservatives, we’re not on the side of the billionaires and the bankers. We’re on the side of the nurse, the doctor, the patient and the people and we will never sell out our National Health Service. I’ll now ask our colleagues, friends from the National Health Service are here today to help us and they will pass around some copies of these documents and then Barry and I will take questions from you.

This topic was first mentioned in a documentary on TV by the Channel 4 Dispatches programme, which asserted that the price the NHS pays for US medicines could rise steeply in any future trade deal with the United States

Scottish Government Overview of ‘No Deal’ Preparations

And in another publication today, 08 October 2019, the Scottish Government released details of their own no-deal planning.

Our preparation for ‘no deal’ Brexit and planning work to date, and proposed mitigations to deal with the impact on Scotland of a ‘no deal’ exit from the European Union.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-government-overview-no-deal-preparations/

The Scottish Government has consistently opposed the UK’s proposed departure from the EU, in line with the clear majority of votes in Scotland in the 2016 referendum.

At the same time, we have also been willing to seek compromise – for example, by suggesting that the UK at least remains part of the single market and customs union.

While the risk of a ‘No Deal’ exit remains, as a responsible Government, we are taking appropriate steps to mitigate its potential impacts. In doing so, we are seeking to protect Scotland from the worst impacts of No Deal.

This overview of our No Deal planning sets out, in clear terms:

o the potential impacts of ‘No Deal’

o the steps we are taking, or planning to take – to mitigate those impacts as far as we can

o the actions we are demanding of the UK Government to mitigate some of the impacts

We must also recognise that, whatever preparations we make in Scotland or action the Scottish Government and its partners may take, and indeed whatever the UK Government might do, it is simply not possible to avoid all the impacts of a ‘No Deal’ exit.

It remains possible that ‘No Deal’ can be avoided. But we need to prepare proportionately now, and be as ready as we can be in case the worst happens. This overview describes how the Scottish Government is preparing as best we can for a possible No Deal exit from the EU on 31 October.

Scottish Government Overview of ‘No Deal’ Preparations (pdf)

Scottish Government Overview of ‘No Deal’ Preparations (local copy pdf)

Scottish Government advice for businesses and the public

The Scottish Government and its Agencies have published a range of information to support businesses and individuals prepare for the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

Scottish Government – https://www.gov.scot/brexit
mygov.scot – https://www.mygov.scot/brexit
Scottish Enterprise – https://www.scottish-enterprise.com/prepare-for-brexit
PrepareforBrexit.scot – https://www.prepareforbrexit.scot

Brexit readiness report – 08 October 2019

Preparations to ensure that the UK is ready for Brexit on 31 October will be set out in a paper published today by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove.

The Government has put forward serious and reasonable proposals to the EU and continues to work at pace to secure a deal, but this will require movement from the EU. If we leave without a deal, the Brexit readiness report includes details of the Government’s work to make sure that citizens and businesses are ready for Brexit on 31 October.

The report also sets out the preparation underway to ensure that goods continue to flow smoothly across the UK and EU border after Brexit, with measures in place and information given to traders, businesses and hauliers on what they need to do to prepare before 31 October.

These include:

o the automatic allocation of Economic Operator Registration Indicator (EORI) numbers to 88,000 VAT registered companies across the UK that frequently trade with the EU;

o postponed VAT accounting for both EU and non-EU imports, enabling VAT-registered businesses to wait until their next VAT return to declare and recover import VAT on goods- helping their cash flow and reducing costs at the point of import;

o a Temporary Tariff Regime (TTR) for all imports, including from the EU, supporting consumers, business supply chains and those sectors in the UK economy that would most benefit from support as we leave, for up to 12 months; and

HMRC sending 220,000 businesses guidance on the steps they need to take to import and export after we leave the EU on 31 October.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rt Hon Michael Gove MP said:

“It is the top priority of this Government, and principal focus of my job, to get ready for Brexit on 31 October with or without a deal. We would prefer to leave with a deal, and continue to work in an energetic and determined way to achieve one, but we must be prepared for all eventualities.

This report sets out what will change if we leave without a deal and explains what the Government is doing to get ready. Significant preparations have been underway for the last three years and these have been accelerated under the Prime Minister’s leadership. At every point, the Government will be candid about any further challenges ahead as well as clear-eyed about the opportunities. Together, government, businesses and citizens are working so that we will be ready for Brexit on 31 October– and can look forward to the future with certainty and confidence.”

In a further move to get the country ready and to help ensure the UK’s health sector is prepared, the Government is today establishing a dedicated ‘Support Unit’ for suppliers of medical goods in the health sector. This will help to ensure that companies have the necessary customs paperwork in place for border arrangements ahead of Brexit on 31 October, if we leave without a deal. These teams of specialists will be able to provide traders operating in the health and social care sector with up-to-date advice and practical guidance on the steps they need to take to prepare.

The Brexit readiness report released today outlines preparations that have been made to support businesses and citizens if we leave without a deal, including:

o significant increases in the number of customs agents at the borders;

o a new import/ export helpline to answer businesses’ questions;

o the largest ever government public information campaign to get public and business owners ready for Brexit;

o organised business readiness events with more than 800 attendees to support businesses to get ready for Brexit, with 29 additional events in the pipeline. Secured additional funding to deliver webinars for EU companies to tell them what they need to do; and

o secured additional freight capacity and worked on preparations with our suppliers and partners, to ensure the stockpile of critical medicines and goods.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/brexit-readiness-report-published

The full report (159 pages) is available:

No-Deal Readiness Report (pdf)

No-Deal Readiness Report (local copy pdf)

Article by Dominic Raab – 11 August 2019

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph on 11 August 2019, the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab outlines his vision for a truly global Britain.

As we strive for a better deal with the EU, we need to view that relationship in the context of our wider vision for the UK after Brexit. Fifteen years ago, when I was posted as a Foreign Office lawyer to The Hague, I remember my counterparts from Japan, Australia, South Korea and Brazil lamenting the introverted perspective of the EU and the UK at the expense of the rest of the world.

It was a salutary warning. Today, the UK wants a strong relationship with our European partners. But Brussels isn’t the only game in town. It’s time we broadened our horizons, and my first visits as Foreign Secretary to the US, Canada, Thailand and Mexico, have shone a light on the opportunities for a truly global Britain.

In the US, President Trump told me how much America values its close friendship with Britain, his high regard for our Prime Minister, and his enthusiasm for a free trade deal with the UK. How serious are they? After our meeting, secretary of state Mike Pompeo told reporters that the US was poised “at the doorstep, pen in hand”, ready to sign a deal, which would boost business and enhance consumer choice on both sides of the Atlantic.

I also met vice president Mike Pence and national security adviser John Bolton, reflecting the fact that our relationship goes far beyond trade. Crucially, we work together to defend our shared values and to respond to security threats, whether by protecting international shipping from the menace of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard or striving to secure North Korea’s denuclearisation.

Few countries have been a better friend than Canada, which I visited earlier in the week. I spoke to business representatives, who committed to investing more in the UK, and discussed with Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland the need for a smooth transition on our trade as we leave the EU.

Our vision for global Britain also involves promoting values. Ms Freeland and I pledged to work together to protect media freedoms globally. I heard about Canada’s experience of adopting a Magnitsky Act to impose visa bans and asset freezes on those responsible for gross human rights abuses. Once we’ve left the EU and regained control of our own sanctions rules, this government will implement the “Magnitsky” provisions of the UK Sanctions Act. That means human rights abusers anywhere in the world will face consequences for their actions, with any assets they hold in the UK frozen and a ban on travelling here. We will ensure that global Britain is not a safe haven for those who profit from torturing others.

Beyond old friends, we must deepen our ties with the world’s growth markets from Asia to Latin America. So last week, I was delighted to take up an invitation from the Association of South-East Asian Nations to attend their meeting of foreign ministers in Bangkok. In fewer than 20 years, the total GDP of the 10 nations in this club has expanded almost sixfold to nearly $3 trillion today. Scarcely anywhere in the world could match this rate of growth. Now is the time to bolster our commitment to the Asia-Pacific region, develop stronger trade, and work together to ensure the stability that allows us all to prosper.

The final leg of my trip again reflects the opportunities of the future. Mexico has a population of 126 million and an economy of over $1.2 trillion. UK exports to Mexico totalled £2.3 billion in 2017, up 18% in 1 year. Red London buses, built by a Scottish manufacturer, now ride along Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City.

But we can do better in Latin America. Here’s one example. Two thirds of Mexicans have no bank accounts but half of them have a smartphone. That’s a great opportunity for innovative British businesses. With a bright future outside the EU, we will help Mexican firms trade more freely with the UK.

Wherever I travel, I take the Prime Minister’s message of optimism. We will remain strong European partners. But there is a wider world out there for us to re-discover. By the end of my first fortnight as Foreign Secretary, I have met the foreign ministers of 22 countries across the world. I am struck by how much they want to strengthen their ties with us. They too see the great benefits offered by Brexit to deepen our partnerships around the world.

Together there is more that we can and will do to enhance global prosperity and stability and defend our shared values of freedom, democracy and tolerance. So, let’s raise our game, rediscover our national self-confidence, and grasp the tremendous opportunities that lie ahead.

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