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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.

EU completes preparations for possible “no-deal” scenario on 12 April

Recent Press Release from the EU indicates that the EU has completed its preparations for a possible “no-deal” scenario on 12 April.

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-19-1813_en.htm

(Here’s the text – check the above link for all detail including embedded links)

Brexit preparedness: EU completes preparations for possible “no-deal” scenario on 12 April

Brussels, 25 March 2019

As it is increasingly likely that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union without a deal on 12 April, the European Commission has today completed its “no-deal” preparations.

At the same time, it continues supporting administrations in their own preparations and urges all EU citizens and businesses to continue informing themselves about the consequences of a possible “no-deal” scenario and to complete their no-deal preparedness. This follows the European Council (Article 50) conclusions last week calling for work to be continued on preparedness and contingency. While a “no-deal” scenario is not desirable, the EU is prepared for it.

Following a request by Prime Minister Theresa May, the European Council (Article 50) agreed on Thursday 21 March to extend the UK’s departure date to 22 May 2019, provided the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by the House of Commons by 29 March 2019 at the latest. If the Withdrawal Agreement is not approved by the House of Commons by then, the European Council has agreed to an extension until 12 April 2019. In that scenario, the United Kingdom would be expected to indicate a way forward before this date.

While the European Union continues to hope that it will not be the case, this means that if the Withdrawal Agreement is not ratified by Friday 29 March, a “no-deal” scenario may occur on 12 April. The EU has prepared for this scenario and has remained united throughout its preparations. It is now important that everyone is ready for and aware of the practical consequences a “no-deal” scenario brings.

A “no-deal” scenario

In a “no-deal” scenario, the UK will become a third country without any transitionary arrangements. All EU primary and secondary law will cease to apply to the UK from that moment onwards. There will be no transition period, as provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement. This will obviously cause significant disruption for citizens and businesses.

In such a scenario, the UK’s relations with the EU would be governed by general international public law, including rules of the World Trade Organisation. The EU will be required to immediately apply its rules and tariffs at its borders with the UK. This includes checks and controls for customs, sanitary and phytosanitary standards and verification of compliance with EU norms. Despite the considerable preparations of the Member States’ customs authorities, these controls could cause significant delays at the border. UK entities would also cease to be eligible to receive EU grants and to participate in EU procurement procedures under current terms.

Similarly, UK citizens will no longer be citizens of the European Union. They will be subject to additional checks when crossing borders into the European Union. Again, Member States have made considerable preparations at ports and airports to ensure that these checks are done as efficiently as possible, but they may nevertheless cause delays.

The EU’s “no-deal” preparedness and contingency work

Since December 2017, the European Commission has been preparing for a “no-deal” scenario. It has published 90 preparedness notices, 3 Commission Communications, and has made 19 legislative proposals (see below).

The Commission has held extensive technical discussions with the EU27 Member States both on general issues of preparedness and contingency work and on specific sectorial, legal and administrative preparedness issues. The Commission has now also completed its tour of the capitals of the 27 EU Member States. The aim of these visits was to provide any necessary clarifications on the Commission’s preparedness and contingency action and to discuss national preparations and contingency plans. The visits showed a high degree of preparation by Member States for all scenarios.

Member States have also been engaged in intensive national preparations. An overview of residency rights in the EU27 Member States is available here, as well as direct links to national preparedness websites.

Tariffs on imports after EU Exit

The Government is publishing information on essential policies which would need to be in place if the UK were to leave without a deal.

This approach was outlined by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on 12 March 2019 to ensure MPs are fully informed before the vote on No Deal on 13 March 2019.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-temporary-rates-of-customs-duty-on-imports-after-eu-exit

The information, aimed towards business, includes the government’s approach to customs duty, which is a tax you pay when importing goods.

The rate of customs duty you pay is known as the ‘tariff’.

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, you may need to pay different rates of customs duty (tariffs) on imports. These rates would only be applied if the UK were to leave the EU with no deal.

The UK government would set temporary rates which would:

  • apply from 11pm on 29 March 2019
  • be in place for up to 12 months from 29 March 2019

Here is a list of the temporary rates of customs duty (tariffs) on imports after EU Exit.

MFN and tariff quota rates of customs duty on imports if the UK leaves the EU with no deal

Preferential tariff rates
A preferential tariff rate would apply if the country:

  • has a free trade agreement with the UK
  • is part of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences
  • If a preferential tariff rate applies, this is the rate of customs duty (tariff) you would pay.

    Most-favoured-nation (MFN) tariff rates

    If a preferential tariff rate does not apply, this is the rate of customs duty (tariff) you would pay.

    Tariff quota rates (TRQ)

    If a tariff quota rate applies, you could apply to import a limited amount at a reduced rate of customs duty (tariff). You would need to claim for the tariff rate quota using the TRQ order number.

    Worker rights after the UK withdrawal from the EU

    Parliament, trade unions and businesses will be given a new and enhanced role in shaping the future of workers’ rights after Brexit, the Prime Minister announced today.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/workers-rights-to-be-protected-in-uk-law

    The new measures will protect and improve workers’ rights after the UK leaves the EU and this follows the government’s commitment in December to the largest upgrade to workers’ rights in a generation.

    The government has made a commitment not to reduce the standards of workers’ rights from EU laws retained in UK law and will ensure that new legislation changing those laws will be assessed as to whether they uphold this commitment.

    Parliament will be given the right through the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to consider any future changes in EU law that strengthen workers’ rights or workplace health and safety standards, and vote on whether they too should be adopted into UK law.

    The measures will require Parliament to be given regular updates on changes to EU legislation in this area and will give MPs a choice on the action government will take in response, including whether MPs want to decide that the UK should remain aligned with the EU. In preparing those updates, trade unions, businesses and the relevant select committees of Parliament will be consulted with.

    This new process will start with 2 EU Directives that come into force after we have left and following the Implementation Period – the Work Life Balance Directive and the Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive. The government has voted in favour of both of these directives in the European Council and intends to ask Parliament if it wants to adopt them into UK law.

    The Work Life Balance Directive introduces new rights for parents and carers, such as 2 months of paid leave for each parent up until the child is 8 and also 5 days of leave for those caring for sick relatives.

    The Transparent and Predictable Working Conditions Directive will set the terms of employment for workers by their first working day and provides more stability if you work in shifts. The government is already committed to many of these measures.

    Prime Minister Theresa May said:

    “We have as a country led the way in workers’ rights while maintaining a flexible labour market. The enormous success of our jobs market and the wealth of opportunities for workers across the nation have long been underpinned by the policies and standards that exceed the minimums set by the EU and that has been driven by successive governments of all parties.

    After Brexit it should be for Parliament to decide what rules are most appropriate, rather than automatically accepting EU changes. When it comes to workers’ rights this Parliament has set world-leading standards and will continue to do so in the future, taking its own decisions working closely with trade unions and businesses.”

    Business Secretary Greg Clark said:

    “The United Kingdom has a proud tradition of establishing and improving the rights of working men and women from Shaftesbury’s Factories Acts, through William Hague’s Disability Discrimination Act to the Minimum Wage introduced by a Labour government, bolstered into the National Living Wage by a Conservative government.

    While the EU sets minimum requirements in many areas of workers’ rights, time and again the UK has led the way and chosen to exceed them. We are determined to maintain this record of leadership outside the EU. Yet it is a fact that some people felt that the rights of workers would not be adequately addressed, so as part of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill we will ensure parliament is given a vote on the action government will take in response to changes to EU legislation on workers’ rights.”

    There will also be an extra package of measures to strengthen enforcement of workers’ rights.

    Proposals include bringing a range of enforcement bodies under one roof. Currently, HMRC enforces the national minimum and living wages; the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority investigates reports of exploitation and illegal activity in the workplace; and the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate protects the rights of agency workers.

    Proposals for a single labour market enforcement body will be brought forward in the coming months. It would have the power, for example, to enforce holiday payments for vulnerable workers and ensure agency workers are not underpaid. It would also have a duty to consult unions and employment unions on its work.

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/784021/protecting-enhancing-worker-rights-after-uk-withdrawal-from-eu.pdf

    Common Travel Area Guidance

    by Politicker 0 Comments

    A document has been issued by the UK Government providing guidance for UK and Irish Citizens on their rights under the Common Travel Area arrangements.

    The Common Travel Area (CTA) is a long-standing arrangement between the UK, the Crown Dependencies (Bailiwick of Jersey; Bailiwick of Guernsey; Isle of Man) and Ireland.

    The CTA established cooperation between respective immigration authorities enabling British and Irish citizens to move freely between, and reside in, these islands.

    British and Irish citizens enjoy additional rights in Ireland and the UK. These include the right to work, study and vote in certain elections, as well as to access social welfare benefits and health services.

    If you are a British citizen or an Irish citizen you do not need to take any action to protect your status and rights associated with the CTA. After the UK leaves the EU, you will continue to enjoy these rights, no matter what the terms of the UK’s exit. Both the UK and Irish Governments have committed to taking all necessary measures to ensure that the agreed CTA rights and privileges are protected in all outcomes.

    Details at

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/common-travel-area-guidance

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